Why use online discussions?
Online discussions are a helpful tool for facilitating peer-to-peer learning in face-to-face courses. In particular, asynchronous discussion — or online discussion where participants can contribute at different times — has a number of benefits. Asynchronous discussion allows participants to contribute at a time that works for them and flexibility in timing also means that we can use online discussions to facilitate the exchange of ideas across sections of very board subjects.
Some participants find face-to-face discussions challenging and those with social anxiety might find it difficult to voice their opinions in front of a large group, especially if there are strong personalities who dominate the discussion. Participants who are also not confident in their language skills might need time to form their thoughts and in very large groups it can be difficult to hear when multiple groups are talking at once. Asynchronous discussions give participants time to consider their thoughts before expressing them to others, which is of particular benefit to those who may need time to understand or reflect before responding to a question. Our moderators often find that the online exchange of ideas often results in a high quality of discussion.
Online discussions require similar preparation and active management in order to facilitate the best outcomes and MRA Research has a wealth of experience in developing good question guides and detailed structure for respondents.