Study finds how to make online discussions efficient yet valuable

We’ve written before on our blog about the importance of creating online discussion forums that balance quality with workload. It’s crucial that these discussions provide students with a valuable learning experience, while keeping this task manageable for both them and instructors.

That’s why we conducted a year-long study exploring the perceived workload and value of online discussions for our online MBA students and instructors. Our goal was to understand if our students believed these discussions were insightful and useful, and whether the workload was manageable and matched the value they were receiving.

Likewise, we wanted to ascertain how our instructors were managing to evaluate the hundreds of entries in the forum, and if they believed the discussions were helping students improve their competency in the subject matter at hand.

I presented the findings from our online discussion study at Post University’s Online Learning Conference 2012. In case you missed it, take a listen to my presentation, where I cover how we created the study, the different response profiles we measured, and the implications we drew for course and discussion design.

This study also validated the value of Post University’s Online Discussion Guideline, which we’ve written about before on our blog. I’ve also published a paper in the MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT) detailing best practices for creating online discussion forums that foster and optimize student-to-student and student-to-instructor engagements, without demanding too much time from students and instructors. Flip back to these resources for more information and recommendations on creating online discussion forums.

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