15 Tips For Facilitating Online Discussion

Facilitating discussions between students is one of those things that is infinitely easier when you’re teaching in a physical classroom rather than online. When the students are all in one room, discussions happen more naturally. Facilitating the same type of productive, useful discussion when teaching online is more of a challenge.

The handy infographic below from Mia MacMeekin takes a look at some tips and best practices for facilitating discussions when you’re teaching online.  If you teach online and have any favorite tips and tricks, leave us a message in the comments!

15 Tips For Facilitating Online Discussion

  • Start reading posts early
  • Give constructive feedback, public and private
  • Identify writing issues early
  • Participate frequently
  • Follow the rubric
  • Stimulate conversation
  • Make it real
  • Empower the students to share
  • Keep it alive
  • Praise well written arguments
  • Never criticize publicly
  • Never wait too long to stimulate discussion
  • Never take one side
  • Never discount someone’s experience
  • Never let inaccurate information go unnoticed

10 Prompts to Stimulate Conversation

  • Can you clarify?
  • Do you need anything else to answer this?
  • Do you think?
  • Do you agree with?
  • So are you saying?
  • Have you seen?
  • So on the news, I noticed something similar
  • What do your friends think?
  • Is there someone else you can ask?
  • Where did you hear that?
  • Do you have a reference for that?




  1. Dallas

    March 15, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    The advice not to criticize publicly sounds good, but I have found that if plagiarism occurs on a public discussion board that it needs to be called out. If it is not, other students may think it is okay to plagiarize or may resent the teacher for not making it clear that plagiarism is not okay. Plagiarism cannot go unnoticed.

    • rholt

      March 16, 2014 at 12:24 pm

      I agree plagiarism should be called out. Maybe a good way to handle this would be to ask the student to cite their source. Sends the message that you do check and won’t embarrass the student or create a hostile environment.

    • Pankaj Joshi

      March 20, 2014 at 10:39 am

      I agree plagiarism should not go unnoticed especially when on a public discussion board. However, I feel that in most cases plagiarism is unintentional (especially with students) as they do not realize the fact that even an idea needs to be acknowledged. The person involved should be given a chance to explain the circumstances in which it happened,