Structuring Discussions: Online and Face-to-Face

By Maryellen Weimer, PhD

I found a nice set of online discussion activities that strike me as good in-class discussion activities as well. One of the reasons discussion so often fails or doesn’t realize much of its potential is the absence of structure. The discussion is too open-ended. It wanders around and is easily sidetracked. I’m not discounting the value of an occasional unstructured exchange, but when students are still learning what academic discourse entails, a structure can keep the discussion focused and on track.

The list of discussion activities are by Laurel Warren Trufant, in the article “Move Over Socrates: Online Discussion is Here.” I’ve added some comments and elaborations (in italics) after the author’s suggestions.

[The list follows.]

About Ryan C. Fowler

Ryan is a curricular fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington D.C. He also teaches at Franklin and Marshall College and Lancaster Theological Seminary.
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