Teaching Matters

Facilitating online discussions effectively

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Teaching Matters 2017 | Presentation Details | 28 NovemberNov 2017


Facilitating online discussions effectively: a guide for staff


Tracy Douglas, School of Health Sciences
Louise Earwaker, the Library
Allison James, Australian Maritime College
Carey Mather, School of Health Sciences
Sandra Murray, School of Health Sciences
Susan Salter, School of Health Sciences


Making a Difference for Students

Presentation Type

Lightning Presentation


Stanley Burbury Lecture Theatre




A key factor related to student participation in online study is the establishment of a conducive learning environment, also expressed as an effective social, teaching and cognitive presence (Bair & Bair, 2011).  At the University of Tasmania, online discussion boards are frequently integrated into the blended framework of learning and teaching as an asynchronous online communication tool.  However, this strategy does not necessarily effectively engage students. Previous studies have explored perspectives of teachers and students and have consistently related satisfaction to one or more aspects of online discussion, including the structure of discussion forums, the level and type of interaction between teachers and students and the quality of the discussion content (Waters, 2013). This lightning presentation will focus on a project investigating staff and student perspectives of using online discussion boards. As a result of this research, a web-based guide on the effective use and facilitation of online discussion boards for University of Tasmania staff has been created by the project team.  A review of the literature (including existing guides), surveys, focus group interviews and experiences of the project team, have been triangulated to inform the development of this guide. Designed to be a one-stop guide for University of Tasmania staff, irrespective of their experiences with online discussion boards, it incorporates evidence-based information and exemplars to enhance online learning community collaboration. The presentation will provide a snapshot of the guide at its current stage of development. This project was supported by a 2017 Teaching Development Grant.


Bair, D. E., & Bair, M. A. (2011). Paradoxes of online teaching. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 5, 2. Retrieved from http://academics.georgiasouthern.edu/ijsotl/v5n2/articles/PDFs/Bair_Bair.pdf

Waters, J. (2013). Thought-leaders in asynchronous online learning environments. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(1), 19-34. Retrieved from http://sloanconsortium.org/jaln/v16n1/thought-leaders-asynchronous-online-learning-environments

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