3 Simple Rules of Facilitating Online Discussion

3 Simple Rules of Facilitating Online Discussion

The role of the instructor in online discussion includes that of a facilitator. The following three basic rules are compiled and adapted from Connected University’s Online Faculty Training course.

  1. In the first week, respond to every participant’s introduction posting and make them feel welcome.
  2. After the initial response to participants, try to respond at least once to each participant every week or so, depending on the size of the class. Note: I’ve tried this, and it started to feel forced. So I went back to my original rule: post when you have of value something to say! See #3.
  3. Instructor posts should deepen the conversation.
    • Validate especially strong points without praising the person.
    • Ask questions. Challenge those on the right track to extend themselves even further.
    • Redirect those participants who aren’t quite hitting the nail on the head to more closely approximate what you’re looking for in their understanding of the concepts involved.

Note: This was first written for the AVLN Active Online Teaching course in 2002.

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