Online Discussion Facilitation Skills

Someone asked me a question this week about skills for facilitating online discussion forums. He specifically mentioned two areas:

  • Preventing discussions from disintegrating into flames and nastiness
  • Helping discussions become more effective learning tools

Our company includes some training on guiding online discussions as part of the required training for everyone who teaches online. However, it’s proprietary internal training, and therefore not really of help for this particular situation.

Does anyone know of any training materials designed to help prepare discussion leaders and moderators? Ideally, I’m hoping for something that’s open and free or low-cost (this would be for a nonprofit organization). Short of formal training materials, a support forum for moderators where a good community exists might work. This could be something about managing online groups in general and not only in a learning setting.

I’d appreciate hearing any ideas you might have.

4 thoughts on “Online Discussion Facilitation Skills

  1. Hi Christy!
    This is a very big idea. A great idea in fact. And it should be an open resource. I don’t think this is the type of thing anyone should be needing to pay for. There must be a wiki or some other resource out there that we can all support.
    The future of the Instructional Designer rests in mining/farming the nuggets of information freely flowing through online discussions whether that’s a forum, following blogs, watching wiki pages, monitoring social networkings, or even twitter feeds. Its a new skill that will be required by all at some point, but it will be critical for instructional designers…at least the ones that want to stay relevant in a rapidly changing industry.
    Cheers!
    Brent

  2. Hi Christie, I’m a lecturer at the Eastern Institute of Technology in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, teaching online courses and I’m an avid fan of your blog. Here are a few links to good discussion forum resources.
    The first is by a colleague Stephen Corich (and others) and can be found at http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Dec_04/article01.htm

    also http://designing.flexiblelearning.net.au/gallery/activities/discussions.html
    and
    http://elearning.algonquincollege.com/blackboard/pdf/Assessing_Discussion_Forums.pdf

    http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jun_04/article08.htm

    http://www.mtsu.edu/~webctsup/faculty/manual/WebCT_DiscussionBoard_Tips-Pedagogy.pdf

  3. Great links, Robyn! Thanks so much for sharing–I wasn’t familiar with any of these resources. It’s so great to be able to reach out to the learning community and get a response like this.

    It looks like the second link above is htm, not html at the end. Here’s the correct link: http://designing.flexiblelearning.net.au/gallery/activities/discussions.htm

    Through that link, I found this page from the TAFE VC which includes a number of resources for online educators. This includes some courses for online facilitation and communication skills.
    http://www.tafevc.com.au/pl03/teachers/teacher_pd.asp

  4. What’s Up?,

    I’m new here. And it seems like a sweet forum.

    I just wanted to give a friendly hello to all of you here.
    🙂

    -Felix

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