3 Must-Know Discussion Tips and a Brief Look at Future Updates

Contributed By

Dylan Rodgers

Creative Manager at Schoology

3 Must-Know Discussion Tips and a Brief Look at Future Updates

Posted in Pro Tips | June 09, 2015

Discussion is one of the most effective tools in any educator's arsenal. Great minds throughout history have favored learning through discussion—known to many as the Socratic Method—for its ability to engage students, build bridges between seemingly disparate ideas, and stimulate critical thinking.

Nowadays, we have a much greater range in how we can participate in the Socratic Method. Take Schoology discussions for example. Students and educators can comment and post links, audio, video, and resources to support their points. 

Utilizing Schoology's discussions feature is pretty straight forward, but it's not without some more nuanced elements. Here are three ways to enhance discussions you may not have considered and one exciting announcement about how discussions will get even better.

#1 Promote Critical Thinking

We are all influenced by the people around us. This simple fact can get in the way of your students exploring their own ideas. Luckily, we have a wonderful little "advanced feature" that requires students to post before other responses are revealed.

Here's what it looks like to students.

This great little feature is down at the bottom of the discussions creation/editing window. Turn it on and your students have to flex their critical thinking skills from the get-go.

#2 Mobile Image or Video Discussion

Want to add an exciting spin to your discussion? Using the cameras on any available mobile devices to record videos and snap images can add a whole new dimension to the conversation. This expands the creative possibilities in a big way.

For example, what if you broke your class into groups to discuss current events. Each group acts as their own media outlet where they research the given topic and produce a news story with cue cards, anchors, the works.

This is KRQP-DylaNews.

Projects like this are fun, informative, and cover a slew of different skills including close reading, writing with brevity, presenting, and collaboration.

#3 Staff Pre and Post-Meeting Group Discussions

Posting a discussion to faculty and staff groups before a meeting can help break the ice and make any meeting more productive. This is especially effective for large groups of people—where it's just not feasible for everyone to speak—and a great precursor to faculty-led meetings.

One major benefit of using group discussions instead of group updates is discussions doesn't get lost and can be easily referenced over time.

We've all had that stroke of genius after a meeting has already come and gone. But if the discussion is left open, it provides a perfect outlet to let ideas germinate, add to them later, and watch them develop.

* * *

A Brief Look at Future Schoology Discussions

As promised, here's your glimpse into the future of Schoology discussions. During this summer (or winter depending on where you are in the world!) we'll be making some big enhancements to this community-favorite feature.

The mission—to make discussions more streamlined, simplify their navigation, and make the controls more convenient.

The new enhancements you can look forward to include:

  • a cleaner, more scannable design
  • the ability to expand and collapse discussion threads
  • an icon to identify the Course or Group Administrator(s)
  • the ability to quickly see who's posted and who hasn't
  • the ability to immediately identify unread posts and replies
  • more convenient controls for posting and navigating
  • new formatting options for rich-text posts

 What's your favorite way to use discussions?

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