Instructional Discussions in Online Education: Practical and Research-Oriented Perspectives

Document Type

Contribution to Books

Publication Date



It can be argued that discussion is one of the oldest forms of instruction (Gall & Gall, 1990; Larson, 2000). Online education through asynchronous learning networks (ALNs) provides the opportunity for the development of innovations in educational practice. Although instructional discussion is not an innovation, it is an essential component of social learning, community-based learning, and other practices that are considered valuable features of online education (Harasim, Hiltz, Teles, & Turroff, 1996; McIsaac & Gunawardena, 1996; Romiszowski & Mason, 1996). Thus, it makes sense to research this blend of the old (classroom discussion) and the new (ALNs) with the aim of understanding and improving practice.