100 ways to use a VLE – #3 Having an online discussion

Discussion is a really useful way of enhancing learning, whether it be a formalised classroom discussion or seminar, or an informal discussion arising from a presentation or a video.

How do you ensure that all learners contribute to the discussion?

How many though consider the needs of different learners and learning styles when facilitating discussion? Some learners are reflective and they need to time to think and reflect on the discussion

Online discussion using a forum on the VLE is one option that facilitates discussion in a way which allows reflective (and quieter) learners to contribute.

It is not an either or situation, it’s not about having just online discussions in the same way as it is not just about having all face to face discussions, it’s much more about allowing a range of discussion using different mediums to reflect the different needs and learning styles of different learners.

So how do you go about it?

The Tutor sets a question, for example:

2002 saw the first full year of the Euro.

Read the following article from the BBC News pages and each member of the group to contribute to a discussion entitled The Euro works with John to summarise by the 17th


Each of the students from the group would be expected to contribute to the discussion, with one of the members of the group posting a summary.

Facilitating such a discussion requires similar skills that you would find in the classroom, praising and bringing in quieter members of the group.

that’s a good point Charlie, what do you think Claire

You could also have an online discussion in order to provide evidence for Communication Key Skills.

Online discussions are not difficult, but do require (in the same way that a face to face discussion does) some planning and facilitation. It also helps if you try out a discussion as a user first.

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