Twelve tips for engaging learners in online discussions

Goshtasbpour, Fereshte; Swinnerton, Bronwen J. and Pickering, James D. (2022). Twelve tips for engaging learners in online discussions. Medical Teacher, 44(3) pp. 244–248.



Educators play a critical role in designing, facilitating and delivering an online medical education experience. Their teaching decisions and practices shape learners’ experiences and affect their achievements. This is true even in large-scale, open educational contexts such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which are designed based on self-regulated and collaborative learning. Thus, it is particularly important to explore the ways in which educators can effectively support online or blended learning through their interactions with learners. The 12 tips in this article aim to provide medical educators with guidelines for creating engaging online discussions that both support and challenge learners’ understanding. The advice draws on a recent study examining the experiences and activities of 24 educators in MOOC discussion areas, and how their learners engaged with them. It provides practical recommendations on facilitating online discussions, producing engaging discussion tasks, and creating a balanced educator presence.

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