How to create excellent online discussion board questions

This semester I have incorporated an activity into my online courses. Students are required to facilitate the online discussion board for one or two weeks, depending on which course they are in. We use an online learning platform called Blackboard, but there are a number of different platforms available.

Here is a handy 1-page resource I created to help my  students develop and facilitate great questions that enhance learning, keep participants focussed and encourage in-depth online discussions.

View this document on Scribd

Click here to download your own copy of it: How to facilitate a Blackboard discussion


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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

2 Responses to How to create excellent online discussion board questions

  1. I was recently a TA for a distance ed class in which students were responsilbe for facilitating a small group–they were required to do the facilitating, and were given marks for their performance, but nowhere had they been taught some skills!

    I sent each of them an e-mail prior to the two-week period they were assigned to facilitate, outlining some tips, and got a couple of heartfelt thank-you’s in response.

    Your resource is more elaborated than my e-mail, and so more useful. Your points about open-ended questions, organizing questions into threads, and modeling good use of APA standards hit the mark as far as my experience goes.

    Thanks for this.

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