Goals & Objectives: (presented to students before the activity or in the syllabus)

Objective of assignment:

In threaded asynchronous discussion forums, students will identify skills and responsibilities needed to succeed in the virtual classroom as determined by attaining an 80% level of quality in postings and responses as determined by the discussion forum assignment rubric.


What must students already know before beginning this lesson? The answer to this question will vary depending on the needs of the lesson. In most cases, the students will need at least a beginning knowledge of the materials being discussed. Discussion questions usually occur after the students have begun reading new materials. The discussion helps to solidify ideas, present new perspectives, and address any misconceptions.

Materials and Resources:

What needs to be prepared in advance by the teacher? The instructor needs to construct discussion questions prior to the given unit. There should also be activities or readings that coincide with these questions to provide students with any necessary knowledge to answer them or to begin formulating ideas.

What does the student need to bring to the lesson? To assess student learning or to aid in knowledge construction, discussion questions should be done after a student has already done any lesson readings or other information presentation or representations for the given knowledge unit. If the goal is to have the students reveal prior knowledge, discussion should occur before readings. Questions regarding student attitudes and beliefs may be done either before or after the students completes other learning materials.

Guiding Questions for this Activity:

What are the attributes needed to be a successful online student, and how can I, as an instructor, help them to succeed?

Activity as Presented to the Students:

communication.gif Discussion Questions Assignment


The questions below serve as advance organizers to encourage critical thinking and informed participation. Specific discussion questions will be assigned to individuals with ensuing discussion from all course members. This ensures that all participants have ample opportunity to interact. Some of the most important discussion questions will be recycled throughout the course. This gives students the opportunity to consider more in-depth responses to key questions as the course progresses.


Post your assignment in this forum by the date it appears in the course calendar. The Discussion Question Rubric will be used to evaluate the assignment.


  1. Answer the discussion question(s) assigned to you. You should answer the question(s) that precedes your name.

  2. Suggested length is a response approximately equivalent to 300 words. While your initial response to the question should be brief, it should also be written within accepted conventions of standard English. The follow-up discussion may take on a more relaxed and conversational tone, but the initial response should reflect appropriate scholarship.

  3. Submit your response by the date on the course calendar so we have time to discuss the implications of your response.

  4. You should do the reading assignment for the week before you answer your discussion question, and you are encouraged to refer to the articles in your response, if appropriate.

  5. Please put the number of your DQ, and a brief description in the subject line of your message

  6. Write out the question before you write your answer in your posting. This will help us focus on the content and keep things in order.

  7. Review the responses of your fellow classmates and post your comments and reactions as appropriate. You are NOT expected to comment on EVERYONE's postings - only those that interest you (but a minimum of three).

Your assigned Discussion Questions

1. Before this course began your were required to submit two assignments to the discussion forum. In your opinion, what was the purpose of these assignments? Would you consider doing something like this in designing your own online course? Why/why not? Student Names

2. List what you believe are essential characteristics of a successful online student and why. Student Names

3. Can all students succeed in the virtual classroom? What student populations might have the most difficulty with online learning and why? How would you address these concerns? Student Names

4. McDonald discusses the emergence of constructivism and collaborative learning in online learning and highlights the potential for electronic communication. What are some of the pros and cons of computer mediated communication, such as what you would expect to find in most online courses? Student Names

5. The learner centered classroom may be one in which students have more say over defining learning outcomes, especially if one follows a constructivist model in which students are adding to and shaping the process and content of what is examined in any given unit of instruction. How realistic do you think this is? Has the role of the student dramatically changed from the traditional classroom model? Provide evidence for or against your opinion. Student Names

Additional questions...followed by link to the discussion forum.

Teaching Strategies:

One of the most difficult things for an instructor to do during a discussion question activity is to let the students discuss. The students need to be made aware of the expectations of their participation. The instructor needs to be careful not to post in such a way that the discussion is squelched. It is recommended that the students be informed of when they can expect the instructor to begin commenting, such as the second day of discussion. Posts by the instructor should help to organize, redirect, synthesize, recapitulate, etc. the discussion up to that point and lead to further discussion if appropriate.


What accommodations may be needed for students with disabilities or other special needs? This lesson requires few if any accommodations. Most text to speech and speech to text programs can function within most asynchronous discussion tools. The bandwidth requirements are also low.

Ideas for Activity Evaluation and Teacher Reflection:

How did the students like the lesson? Can be directed into the end of course evaluation. The instructor should also monitor the activity and any student 'noise' concerning the activity.

How was student learning verified? A rubric could be used to assess the student participation as presented below. The rubric may or may not be shared with students depending on instructor preference.

Sample Discussion Forum Rubric

Evaluation Criteria



Not Yet There

Not There At All

Development of Ideas

Well-developed ideas; introduces new ideas; stimulates discussion
(5-6 pts)

Developing ideas; sometimes stimulates discussion
(3-4 pts)

Poorly developed ideas which do not add to discussion
(1 pt)

Does not enter the discussion
(0 pts)

Evidence of Critical Thinking

Clear evidence of critical thinking--application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Postings are characterized by clarity of argument, depth of insight into theoretical issues, originality of treatment, and relevance. Sometimes include unusual insights. Arguments are well supported.
(5-6 pts)

Beginnings of critical thinking; postings tend to address peripheral issues. Generally accurate, but could be improved with more analysis and creative thought. Tendency to recite facts rather than address issues.
(3-4 pts)

Poorly developed critical thinking
(1 pt)

Does not enter the discussion
(0 pts)

Response to Other Students and Instructor

Interacts at least twice with other students and/or instructor
(4 pts)

Interacts at least once with other students and/or instructor
(2 pts)

Does not enter discussion
(0 pts)

Timeliness and Mechanics

Individual message and at least two responses posted before deadline
Standard English mechanics and grammar were used in the initial post. (4 pts)

Noticeable problems with mechanics or late postings.
(2 pts)

No messages posted
(0 pts)

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