unit 2 The Discussion Based Model for Online Learning


In this unit, you’ll review the organization of discussion based online courses. Like face to face courses, online courses have structure and organization that can help you learn the content easier. Our discussion based model has a three tiered structure. In the first tier, you have readings and articles that provide you with information regarding the content of the unit. In this tutorial, we’ll use short videos and activities in place of more in-depth readings. The second tier involves content based peer discussions. This is the heart of the course as you discuss the content from the readings and think about how it fits into your present situation as an educator. In this tutorial, you’ll be asked simple discussion questions which you have the option of answering in the forums. This exercise is optional and you won’t get feedback from your instructor or classmates. However, your comments might help others taking this tutorial after you to gain better insight and you are encouraged to post your thoughtful comments in the discussion forum. The third tier involves an authentic project that asks you to apply what you are learning to something that you can use in your teaching practice. It may be a lesson plan, activity, or project that you design using the principles and ideas from the course. In this tutorial, there is no project assignment for you.



After completing this unit, you will be able to:

  • Understand how discussion-based online courses are organized.
  • Understand the value of using a discussion based model for online courses. 
  • Identify ways in which discussion can enhance learning.



OPEN NH online courses consist of readings, online discussions, and project work. However, this tutorial will use only video and short activities rather than articles and other readings for content information.

Watch the You Tube Video Why Take an Online Course?

Review the information in Practical Strategies to Improve Academic Discussions in Mixed Ability Secondary Content Area Classrooms to get an idea of the importance of discussion in learning.


Consider the characteristics of a good discussion starters by taking a look at the following information:

Links For your convenience, the web addresses for the links in the readings and Activities Sections are provided below.

movie or video   Why Take an Online Course?    https://youtu.be/SziL5BZe5cU

pdf file   Practical Strategies to Improve Academic Discussions in Mixed Ability Secondary Content Area Classrooms    http://www.ode.state.or.us/wma/teachlearn/commoncore/structuring-acad-discuss-.pdf

website   26 Sentence Stems For Higher-Level Conversation In The Classroom    http://www.teachthought.com/learning/sentence-stems-higher-level-conversation-classroom/

website   Conversation starters: How you can get students to participate in classroom discussions that stimulate critical thinking    http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2006/03/cover-starters.aspx

discussion     Advantages of Online Courses

After watching the video on the advantages of online courses, and thinking about the discussion starters and the importance of thoughtful discussion in learning, answer the following discussion starter questions.

  • What surprised you most about the comments made in the video?
  • Do you see any of these advantages applying to your own situation?
  • Which discussion starters are most engaging to you?  Why do you think that is so?
  • How do discussions deepen learning?

Return to the forum and respond to at least two of your classmates with substantial comments that help deepen your understanding of the concepts and extent the conversation into related areas.

Last modified: Monday, August 8, 2016, 9:29 AM