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Online discussion of academic topics

Brief description

In this exercise, the students will engage in online writing collaboration such as a discussion board in Brightspace, an online document or a blog in which they can discuss relevant subject-related issues. The exercise will enable you to invite the students into a different type of inclusive learning practice that will involve them in an open debate to which they can all contribute with their input.

Motivation for the exercise and required outcome

The purpose of the exercise is to engage the students in an academic discussion of topics or concepts so as to train their use of the terminology and special expressions of the academic subject and to strengthen their argumentation skills. By initiating a discussion in writing, students who do not normally contribute in plenary sessions may be motivated to participate, as it may seem less intimidating to make a written contribution than raising their hand and speak.

Performing the exercise

  • You as a teacher must provide one or a number of questions for discussion in a discussion board in Brightspace or in a Word Online document.
  • The questions must be of relevance to the subject and should act as an invitation to enter into an open discussion.
  • Your role is to monitor the discussion and contribute with comments or more detailed questions or explanations if required.
  • The students should sit in groups and discuss with the other groups by writing in the prepared discussion board or in the prepared Word Online document.
  • At later teaching sessions you may want to go back and follow up on the main points in the discussion.

Variation options:

  • The exercise can take place in a classroom session or as an individual exercise between sessions.
  • You may add some obstacles as to how the students may participate in the discussion. You may require, for instance, that all group members must agree completely about an answer before posting anything online, or that group members must take turns at formulating their posts.


    Examples of practice

      You will need:

      Worth considering:

      • Are there some topics in the course you are teaching that are particularly well suited for this type of discussion?
      • Do you wish to allocate a certain time slot for your own participation in the discussion?