Discussions encourage learners to express their ideas and opinions, as well as apply their growing knowledge to new situations and problems. It teaches critical thinking and problem solving, along with subject matter. Because they ask learners to make their thoughts visible, they are also perfect opportunities for assessment and feedback.
Whenever possible, use learner-centered discussions. Encourage students answer each other’s questions and guide the direction of discussion. Offer your own input only when no student can answer, or when it can expand the discussion in a productive direction.
Discussions can be open-ended, driven by the needs and interests expressed by participants, structured to require individual responses to questions or problems, or can involve small group interaction to achieve consensus or to reveal a diversity of opinion. Discussions can also be centered on solving problems, and small groups can focus on collaborative decision making. Moodle Forum activities provide settings for a variety of discussion structures, but external tools can also allow unique forms of discussion and collaboration.
Note: The basic setup of a Discussion Forum and Chat is treated in Unit 3: Provide opportunities for dialogue and reflection. This unit focuses on the use of settings for specialized discussions, and for evaluation participation in discussions.