Online Discussion Formats

Discussion Forums
Discussion forums provide an electronic venue in which students may, with or without their instructor, exchange and explore ideas, continue in-class conversations—after the bell has rung so to speak—or instigate and carry on new ones outside of class. As a pedagogical tool, in other words, it extends the classroom.

Unlike chat rooms, which require scheduled time-slots in which all participants are expected to be in the room, discussion forum conversations are not time-sensitive. Students may contribute at a time of their own choosing.

Chat Rooms
Chat rooms have earned their pedagogical stripes as well. Like a discussion forum, they provide an online venue in which students can meet, again, with or without an instructor, to carry on a conversation outside of class. The difference is in real-time participation.

Unlike discussion forums, immediacy is the name of the game. You must be present—
you must be in the room—in order to participate. To be effective, a time-slot must be scheduled in which all intended participants may find it reasonably convenient to attend; to login, follow along, and contribute to the ongoing thread.

Online Discussion Tools at CSU

Faculty at CSU may create online Discussion Forums and Chat Rooms on the RamCT Web site. For detailed instructions on how to access and use these tools, please see Going Online Using Canvas.

Note: Your will find more information on this subject in the TILT Conducting Online Discussions Teaching Guide.

Copyright and Permissions:

This Teaching Tip was adapted from material developed by Kerri Eglin for the Writing@CSU Web site at Colorado State University.


Peter Connor - TILT Web Content Writer and Editor