Teachers who use Learning Management Systems often facilitate online discussions as part of their classroom routine. While it can take time to support students in developing the skills to have effective, rich discussions that lead to deep learning, they can be rewarding. Suggestions include co-creating the success criteria for online discussion with students. A gradual release of responsibility model can also be used where teachers write comments and responses as a class, then in small groups or partners before doing it individually. Each step should be reflected on and compared to the success criteria. Students do not automatically know how to have rich, deep conversations online to support their learning.
Combining face-to-face classroom discussions with online discussions can empower all students to participate and think deeply. Resources such as Making Room for Talk (found at edugains.ca) can be used to support teachers making the conversation in class (face-to-face and online) accountable.
Online discussions can be held through a Learning Management System (the Provincial vLE, Edmodo, Google Classroom, Moodle, etc.) or they can be done using tools specifically just for online discussions.
There are many tools for online discussions. A few are listed below.
Google Groups (GAFE)