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Discussion Format Strategy for Online Courses

According to Brookfield: Of all the methods most favored by adult educators, it is discussion which has perhaps become enshrined as the adult educational method "par excellence". Brookfield goes on to say, discussion is revered as the educational method which is the most participatory and the most respectful of learners since it encourages active, participatory learning. The discussion format encourages learners to analyze alternative ways of thinking and acting and, most importantly, assists learners in exploring their own experiences so that they can become better critical thinkers. Brookfield further argues that discussions should be as diverse as the learners involved.

The Internet offers several modes for discussion including (1) mailing lists (listservs) that focus on particular topics and can be set up for only the participants of the course, and (2) bulletin board discussion lists. Both of these options utilize asynchronous communication. Synchronous (real time) communication can be offered by utilizing chat rooms or text-based virtual reality environments, better known as Multi-user Domains (MUDs) or Multi-user Object Oriented Environments (MOOs).

This text has been adapted from Creating a Powerful Online Course through the Use of Multiple Instructional Strategies