Week 1 Getting Started


  1. Create a prior knowledge discussion question.
  2. Create a warm­-up online discussion.
  3. Create instructions for a Cyber Cafe and/or Help Desk.

Discussion forums are the most commonly used tool in online teaching for interaction between students, and between students and the instructor. Discussion forums provide the ability for asynchronous discussion to occur over a period of time.

The ability to learn asynchronously is one of the primary benefits of online learning. Students are able to reflect upon their ideas before sharing them with the class, leading to more reflective responses and in-depth learning.

 Benefits of Using Online Discussions
  • Builds class community by promoting discussion on course topics
  • Allows time for in-depth reflection students have more time to reflect, research & compose their thoughts before participating in the discussion
  • Facilitates learning by allowing students to view & to respond to the work of others
  • Develops thinking & writing skills
  • Allows guest experts to participate in the course by posting information & responding to questions
What is the purpose of your discussion?

Online discussions  activities can serve a variety of purposes and can be used to meet a wide range of instructional objectives. Discussions should be used to meet specific course objectives and should be aligned with course content. Well-designed discussion board activities can be used to encourage the following:

  •  Demonstration of Knowledge of Key Concepts – Using the discussion board to discuss key concepts allows students to learn from one another and share ideas. When students submit an assignment directly to a teacher, this sharing of ideas is lost.
  • Community Building – One of the primary reasons for using discussion boards is to build a community of learners. This tool allows students to become part of a vibrant learning community, rather than an just an independent learner completing & submitting assignments with no real peer interaction.
  • Reflection – Reflective activities require students to share a synthesis of the learning experience, or to describe how a situation or experience has personal value to them. These kinds of activities should allow for honest and open responses.
  • Consensus Building – Consensus building activities require students to work together to create a product or to come to an agreement on some topic.
  • Critical Thinking – through the use of higher order questioning techniques and activities, the discussion board can be used to encourage critical thinking skills.
  • Student Leadership: the effective use of discussion forums can encourage student leadership by giving them a voice in the classroom.
Getting Started

During the first week of an online course it essential to begin connecting to students and  “build rapport”. Highly effective online teachers have a strong trust in students. They believe students want to learn and know they can learn until proven otherwise.

In, What the Best College Teachers Do, Ken Bain (2004), discusses some of the major ways that teachers can connect with students . Below is a list of suggestions to help you to begin to connect with your students starting the first week of the course.

  • Spend time online with students to nurture their learning.
  • Invest in your students by not fostering a feeling of power over them.
  • Have the attitude that, “There is no such thing as a stupid question.”
  • Create an online environment where everyone can contribute and each contribution is unique.
  • Foster the feeling that teachers are fellow students and human beings struggling with mysteries of the universe.
  • Provide task praise (you did that well) and avoid person praise (you are so smart.)
  • Give students as much control as possible over their learning.
  • Provide lots of non-judgmental feedback.
  • Encourage collaboration and cooperation.
  • Provide many opportunities to revise and improve work.
  • Avoid language of demands and promises.
  • Make a promise to your students that you will try to help each one achieve as much as possible.
  • Understand your students’ ambitions.
Begin to close the distance gap

Rapport in Distance Education  identifies six categories of rapport-building in DE.  Please click on each links below for a list of indicators.

Introductory discussions

Example s of  icebreakers and introductory discussions  For the first week of an  Online Course

  • Prior Knowledge Warm­ Up Discussion
    • Ask about learners prior knowledge. Example: From your recollections of studying geography in grade school or high school, what tradition or traditions were most prominent in the material of your courses? Give some examples. (GEOG)
  • Icebreaker Introduction: Building a Community of Learners
    • Introductions – Introductions serve a dual purpose – as a way of building a learning community by getting to know each other and to practice using the discussion tool in a non-threatening way (no prior knowledge needed; not graded).
    • Ice Breakers – Ice Breakers are designed to get students thinking about the material or concepts and build connections with peers.  If these exercises are not assessing an objective, they are not graded.
    • Example: Please introduce yourself to your classmates. In addition to sharing your name, feel free to add information about yourself that may help others get to know you and work with you on various class activities. As desired, you may also want to let others know why you are taking this course and about your interest in this subject
    • Ask each student to introduce themselves on the discussion board at the beginning of the course. Respond to each student & encourage the class to respond to one another’s introductions.
  • Portrait
    • students create a portrait of themselves in any medium, digitize the portrait and share it on the discussion board.
  •  Interviews
    • Pairs of students interview each other on a given topic and post the interview results in the discussion board.
  • Cyber Cafe
    • The Cyber Cafe is usually put at the top of the Discussion forum.The purpose of this discussion is to provide the kind of interchange students might have outside of class. Threads posted in this area allows students time to practice talking to their peers. Your active participation in this helps students build relationships with you and other students, and serves as way for you to model the kinds of behaviors, both scholarly and socially. The instructor needs to carefully monitor this open space to head off any potential conflicts amongst the students. Students need a safe place to ask questions, and if one student has a question, chances are others have the same question.  Answering a question in a public forum covers both the questioner and those who wondered the same thing.  It is a good idea to empower your students that if they see the question first and know the answer, they should feel free to respond.
  • Introductory Icebreaker Discussion
    • They provide students with an opportunity to get to know one another and to interact in an Informal way. They should be fun and non-threatening and require participants to find something in common with others in the group.
  • Reflection Discussion
    • What, how and why?
  • Help Desk
    • The help desk is focused on building trust. They usually start out w.ith students populating threads with links to good information. As community forms, students will feel more comfortable about admitting a lack of knowledge, and requesting assistance. As an instructor, you can go two ways. By answering immediately, you show your willingness to be available. By standing back, you allow the students to start to become to view each other as supporting and a source of accurate information. The postings in the help area are generally non controversial and not graded.

Google@UH Consumer Apps

Under an agreement with Google, the University of Hawaii (UH) offers two types of Google applications through Google@UH:

  1. Core applications (Core Apps) and
  2. Consumer applications (Consumer Apps).

Core Apps include Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Sites, Groups (UH-only account collaboration), Contacts, and Talk. These applications are governed by a master agreement between UH and Google, and are available through Google@UH to all UH accounts.

Consumer Apps include applications such as Blogger, Google Bookmarks, Google Maps, Google Groups (all account collaboration), Google+, Picasa Web Albums, Google Analytics and YouTube.

Consumer Apps include Google+ which is  governed by either Google’s general Terms of Services or by app-specific terms

Before you Begin

  1. Turn on Consumer Apps
    1. To use the Consumer Apps with your Google@UH account, you must first turn on the Consumer Apps at http://www.hawaii.edu/google/extra.
    2. Instructions to turn on the Consumer Apps are at http://www.hawaii.edu/askus/1649.
  2. Join the Google+ Community

    1. Click here>Online Discussion Challenge
    2. Click on ‘Home’ to view your home stream – here you’ll see posts based on your interests and what/who you follow.

Quick rundown on how to use Google+

  1. Click on ‘Collections’ to see and share posts based on topics you’re interested in.
  2. Click on ‘Communities’ to have conversations with other people who share your interests.
  3. Click on ‘Profile’ to see your own posts.
  4. Click on ‘People’ to find people to follow, see who you are currently following (that’s where you manage your circles as well), or who follows you.
  5. Click on ‘Circle Streams’ to see streams (posts) from specific circles you’ve created. (NOTE: if you don’t see this option, go to Settings, scroll down to Advanced Settings, and turn on ‘Enable circle stream in navigation’.)
  6. In ‘Settings’ you can fine-tuned a few profile features, as well as your notifications.

Earn Your Badge

First- Introduce Yourself

Click on >Introduce yourself 

This link takes you to the Introduction section in Teaching Online Challenge Google+ Community. Please take a moment and tell us who you are and why you are here. Click on  pencil  to post your introduction.

Step 1- Action Plan
Scheduling Types of Discussions

Follow the steps below to complete your action plan this week.

How to share your Google Doc  with comments

  1. Open your google document and click share in upper right corner.


  1. In share with others click on “Get shareable link”.

get sharaeable link

  1.  Choose anyone at the University of Hawaii with the link can comment.

share with comments



Next: Step 2- Creating Discussion Questions & Activities

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Skip to toolbar