I’ve been reviewing the literature relevant to my upcoming research project, and came across this, which I thought looked useful.

This is a set of instructions which Susan Levine gives to her students prior to any assessed online assynchronous discussions (2002, as cited in Caplan & Graham, 2008).  I think they’re useful as a template because of their clarity and comprehensive nature.

  1. The instructor will start each discussion by posting one or more questions at the beginning of each week (Sunday or Monday). The discussion will continue until the following Sunday night, at which time the discussion board will close for that week.
  2. Please focus on the questions posted. But do bring in related thoughts and material, other readings, or questions that occur to you from the ongoing discussion.
  3. You are expected to post at least two substantive messages for each discussion question. Your postings should reflect an understanding of the course material.
  4. Your postings should advance the group’s negotiation of ideas and meanings about the material; that is, your contributions should go beyond a “ditto.” Some ways you can further the discussion include
    1. expressing opinions or observations. These should be offered in depth and supported by more than personal opinion
    2. making a connection between the current discussion and previous discussions, a personal experience, or concepts from the readings
    3. commenting on or asking for clarification of another student’s statement
    4. synthesizing other students’ responses
    5. posing a substantive question aimed at furthering the group’s understanding


Caplan, D., Graham, R. (2008). The development of online courses. In T. Anderson (Eds.), The theory and practice of online learning (2nd ed., p. 245-264). Canada: AU Press, Athabasca University.