Even if you do not have formal “Discussions” that count towards the course grade, you should consider using this time-saving tool to communicate with your learners. I request that all questions not related to personal issues be posted in the Discussion Forum. When the question is answered, it is available for all others who may need clarification on the same issue. This saves a great deal of time responding to individual emails regarding the same or similar questions. Other students will often respond in a timelier manner than what I am able, and I encourage them to do this. This is especially true for the part-time faculty who may hold a full-time position as well, and are limited as to the time of day they can respond to their online students.
I monitor the answers for accuracy and appropriateness, acknowledging when correct information has been provided. Inaccurate responses can be adjusted to keep everyone on the right path, and I often provide additional insight via my comments to let them know I am always actively involved in the communications.
Here is an example of instructions you might post:
Specific Topic can then be created organized by week, unit, subject, or project. Be sure to provide clear instructions as to where the various questions should be posted. Encourage participants to read these help areas if they need clarification on one of the topics; the answer may already be posted.
For information on the “how to” of creating Discussion Forums and Topics, click here.
Regards, Dr. Jill
Jonnie “Jill” Phipps, Ph.D.