Learning Design Challenge #25: The Discussion Prompt

Learning Design Challenge #25: The Discussion Prompt


Eons ago, when someone mentioned having a class discussion, the context for the discussion was the physical classroom and the options for execution were either to use small groups or to engage the entire class in synchronous conversation.

Today, both the contexts and delivery options for course discussions have grown considerably. In addition, the advent of LMS platforms and other online learning environments seem to have formalized this activity as a required instructional element.

In practice, the current discussion activity often consists of a single question prompt or a few contextual statements followed by a question. From that launch point, learners are expected to respond critically and provide feedback to the responses of others in their cohort.

From a learning design perspective, many discussions I see, in the classroom or online, appear to be practice worksheets reformatted to a different framework. They are designed to effect individual demonstration of information processing as opposed to meaningful dialogue.

Naturally, I’m obliged to ask if there might not be a better model for fostering meaningful learning discussions in our courses.

With that context, today’s learning design challenge is to design your ideal discussion prompt.

Here are some questions to consider.

  1. What is your desired learner experience for the discussion?
  2. Are you trying to encourage a specific skill or literacy with your discussion?
  3. What evidence are you hoping to see with regards to learning or knowledge acquisition?
  4. How important is actual conversation and collaboration as opposed to individual demonstration of information processing?

Design Constraints

Time to Design: <10 min.
Context: Any
Number of Building Blocks Allowed: 4
Hashtag: #DailyLEM25
Design Challenge Guidelines


How to Make Bad Discussion Questions Better for an Online Course: Case Study Using an edX MOOC

Suggested Solutions

flickr photo shared by Nicolas Alejandro Street Photography under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

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