Engaging in Discussions

Engaging in Discussions

Online discussions in this course are considered an important learning activity because it offers everyone a chance to contribute their thoughts about the content we are studying as well as reflect on the ideas of others in the class.

Engaging in a healthy discussion while empolying Netiquette builds community, allows students time to consider ideas and incorporate research into their response, and develops critical thinking and writing skills necessary for success at the post secondary level and beyond.

It is important that each student cultivates an atmosphere of respect in both Primary Posts (your initial thoughts about the topic) and Secondary Posts (your responses to your classmates’ Primary Posts).

Although there are minimum word counts and posts expected to earn full credit, your posts should encourage a discussion, a back and forth exchange of ideas, that should strive to extend beyond the minimum requirements.

Tips for Online Discussions

Edudemic’s 5 Online Discussion Tips For Students

Saint Paul University’s Online Discussions: Tips for Students

University of Waterloo’s  Online Discussions: Tips for Students

The Primary Post

When developing your Primary Post, consider the topic of the discussion and incorporate what you learned about the topic in the module readings, videos, learning activities, etc.

Strong Primary Posts should reflect not only your thoughts but also synthesize the content to support your ideas, generally through citing the authors, their works, and the pages/paragraphs that resonated most with you.  You may also choose to incorporate ideas from outside the required content, just be sure to cite all sources appropriately, such as by using a reference citation, hyperlinks, or pasting the URLs to the content.

The Secondary Post

When developing your Secondary Posts, restate what your classmate has said about the discussion prompt to show you understand what they are saying, and then follow up with your own ideas and reflections about how their ideas impacted you.

Strong Secondary Posts should show how you’ve considered the ideas of others and extended them into your own thoughtful consideration.

Examples of Strong Primary and Secondary Posts

The following offers an example of a discussion prompt, a student’s Primary Post, and a student’s Secondary Post response:

Example Discussion Prompt:

Consider what you’ve learned about Concept Learning. What do you see as the main forms of concept learning in the Paul Lindley case?

Example Primary Post response: 

Reviewing the Lindley case, I initially found a connection between designing the video game and instructional lesson plan materials for teachers with “concept classification” in mind (Reigeluth, 1997, p. 8). For example, the concept of “individual rights versus the rights of the state” (Watson, p. 49), would likely embrace designing instruction so students master the “higher level concept..first, then teach its subordinate concepts” either simultaneously or in sets (Reigeluth, 1997, p. 8).  Additionally, since the team wants the learners to feel in control of their learning, then the “criterion for mastery” of the practice, in this case the video game, will need to be considered as well (Reigeluth, 1997, p. 9).  Although not in the required readings for this week, I did find the Morrison, et al, (2010) text helpful in developing Reigeluth’s concept classification learning which discussed concept-related sequencing as four phenomena (Table 6-3, p. 140):

Phenomenon 1: Class Relations – teaching characteristics of a class before teaching members of the class
Phenomenon 2: Propositional Relations – example provided first then the proposition
Phenomenon 3: Sophistication – begins with simple/concrete and progress to complex/abstract
Phenomenon 4: Logical Prerequisite – teach logical prerequisite concepts first


Morrison, G. R. , Ross, S. M., Kemp, J. E., & Kalman, H. (2010). Designing effective instruction: Applications of instructional design (6th Ed.), New York, NY: Wiley.

Reigeluth, C.R. (1997). Module 1 Application Tasks (Skills): Concept Classification. Unpublished manuscript, Indiana University – Bloomington, Department of Instructional Systems Technology.

Watson, W. R. (2014). The ID Casebook (4th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Example Secondary Post response:

Interesting response, Hyacinth. I’m not sure if there is a way to gauge what you called “just right” especially from a novice instructional design perspective.  I would imagine much is gained through hindsight, even though the instructional design situations, resources, outcomes, stakeholders, etc., change from project to project. Finding the balance between perfection and completion seems to be the struggle, well at least for me.  Whenever I’m working, in the back of my mind rings Raymond’s Cathedral and the Bazaar and the idea of “release early, release often.”  Is it possible to spend too much time in front-end analysis that resources are squandered for the next phase of development?  In the end, the work must get done, right? – and isn’t there something to be said for having room to improve?  I think there is value in iterating towards the goal versus trying to hit a home run from the start.

This page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License and contains content from a variety of sources published under a variety of open licenses, including:

  • Original content contributed by Lumen Learning
  • Content contributed by Ronda Dorsey Neugebauer for Indiana University-Bloomington’s course discussion “Excerpt from R521 Instructional Design and Development I – Week 2 Discussion” under a Creative Commons Attribution License

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