This concise list of online discussion pitfalls and their corresponding solutions is located in San Francisco State University's online education web site in the Faculty Support section under TIPS FOR DESIGNING AND DELIVERING AN ONLINE COURSE.
To capture student interest, connect with students online, keep them on track,and ultimately improve learning outcomes in online discussions.
Target Student Population:
For anyone teaching online. College and university faculty who teach or plan to teach online. Distance learning administrators, faculty developers. This resource could serve as a self-tutorial for the facilitation of online discussions.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
At least begining experience teaching online.
Type of Material:
A web page excerpted \& put into table form from "Reinventing class discussion online," Monitor on Psychology. April 2000, 31, 54-56. Online location: http://www.apa.org/monitor/apr00/reinventing.html and the excerpts from: http://www.apa.org/monitor/apr00/reinventing_box.html Murray actually borrowed this material from web researcher and psychology professor Curtis Bonk's book on "Electronic collaborators: Learner-centered technologies for literacy, apprenticeship, and discourse" (Erlbaum, 1998).
Either as a web page for reference, a self-tutorial or as a handout for new faculty \& instructor development. Also useful as a teaching tool for instructional designers.
No special requirements
Evaluation and Observation
Although the original source is severely outdated (1998), the suggestions still hold true today. Clear expectations as to quanity \& timeliness of postings,student led discussions, modeling by instructor, role playing, importance of a community of learners.
Nothing about rubrics which are extremely useful for online discussions (yet they may be implied in the exhortation to "award points according to set criteria". No references to small groups or collaboration (though pairing students is encouraged). Not sure about the relevance of the statement that students have problems "cutting and pasting text on the Web". Also not so sure about suggesting that instructors troubleshoot problems when student computers crash.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Clearly articulated goal and effective distillation of key online discussion problems with their remedies.
Though concise it is also limited in effectiveness: concrete examples or references to them would improve the effectiveness.