Post a composite review
Unpost a composite review
Search all MERLOT
Select to go to your profile
Select to go to your workspace
Select to go to your Dashboard Report
Select to go to your Content Builder
Select to log out
Search Terms
Enter username
Enter password
Please give at least one keyword of at least three characters for the search to work with. The more keywords you give, the better the search will work for you.
Select OK to launch help window
Cancel help


Advanced Search


Peer Review

Avoiding Online Discussion Pitfalls



Overall Numeric Rating:

4 stars
Content Quality: 3 stars
Effectiveness: 3 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Oct 05, 2006 by Faculty Development
Overview: 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
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: and the excerpts from:
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).
Recommended Uses: 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.
Technical Requirements: No special requirements
Identify Major Learning Goals: 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
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: At least begining experience teaching online.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 3 stars
Strengths: Although the original source is severely outdated (1998), the suggestions still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.
Concerns: 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

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3 stars
Strengths: Clearly articulated goal and effective distillation of key online discussion
problems with their remedies.
Concerns: Though concise it is also limited in effectiveness: concrete examples or
references to them would improve the effectiveness.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: No problems at all using this material

Other Issues and Comments:

Creative Commons:
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States