Online Discussions | Forums


  • "An Internet forum, or message board, is an online discussion site. It is the modern equivalent of a traditional bulletin board, ... People participating in an Internet forum can build bonds with each other and interest groups will easily form around a topic's discussion, subjects dealt within or around sections in the forum." Wikipedia
  • Click to play a presentation from a BPS Principals Academy (once loaded click once to advance to the next slide).

Affordances & Constraints

  • Asynchronous, Anytime, Anywhere
  • Participatory - more students can participate compared to a class discussion (think-pair-shares and other small group cooperative learning techniques can make face-to-face conversations more participatory)
  • Provides equal opportunity for students to express themselves
  • Increased participation, especially moderated discussion, can lead to a greater sense of class community
  • Change dynamics of writing assignments
  • Changes dynamics of who has knowledge – ClassBrain
  • Accountability & assessment - easy to document who has contributed to the conversation and what they have contributed
  • Less threatening than speaking in front of peers for many students
  • "Wait time" is built in - Students can reflect, formulate ideas, compose, edit, and refine their ideas before expressing them to the group
  • A form of peer review
  • Moodle forums have an option so that students can only see others' answers when they post their own
  • Easier to cite class readings, research, or previous discussions
  • Many kids do not like to write or have difficulty writing - (consider a wider set of media for student "writing" - make it multimodal)
  • Kids need direct instruction, practice, and feedback to become quality contributors. This is not natural at first. Without instruction, critics may not be "nice" or offer worthwhile feedback
  • Can’t see other participants facial expressions or hear other cues
  • Can be overwhelming if multiple assignments or too many posts are there – This might lead students to disengage or to think more superficially
  • Without instruction, students are likely to write to instructor, not each other, creating a teacher-centric discussion

Integration Ideas


  • Annotated Bookmarks List
  • FAQ
  • Reading Reflections
  • Revisions (Concepts Maps, Essays, etc.)
  • Jigsaw Notetaking
  • Debates or Pros/Cons
  • Ticket to Discussion / End of class reflection
  • Team Sharing
  • Making Predictions
  • Critiques
  • Think - Pair - Share
  • Top 10 Lists
  • Personal Reflections
  • Note taking
  • Observations over time

Language Arts

  • Book Talks/Discussions
  • Book/Document/Case Analysis
  • Changing Endings
  • Editing Peer work
  • Script Writing
  • Audio recordings for lit circles, book discussions, etc.
  • Literature Circles
  • Pre-Writing


  • Reflections on experiments or topics
  • Post & discuss information/ideas/examples
  • Observations over time
  • Journal writing
  • Reflecting on video/dvd
  • notetaking

Social Studies

  • biographies - asking questions about historical figures
  • career interviews
  • debating
  • building maps - discussing and deciding on what your group map needs, then posting group map

Other Thoughts

  • Move beyond text only forums. Have students post links, images, audio, video, concept maps, etc.
  • Have students write from a particular perspective or role play
  • Teach students to ask each other questions to clarify or to push each others thinking


Related Pages & Resources