Topics Map > Discussion > Introductions and Community-Building

Student Introductions - Description

Student Introductions through online discussions.

Introductory Discussions

Time and Effort
Instructor Prep Time Low
Student Activity Time Low
Instructor Response Time Low
Complexity of Activity Break students into smaller groups


Online students often feel isolated from anyone who can share their immediate learning experiences. This is why one of the best practices for online courses recommends that a discussion forum focused on introductions is one of the first activities of any course to support the emotional component of learning (Boettcher & Conrad, 2016). This introductory discussion forum lays the foundation for student-to-student conversation, interaction, and support, creating a comfortable and trusting social presence (Garrison, Anderson & Arche, 2000).


Use it when you want...

  1. Students to interact with others to form social connections
  2. Students to develop a broader understanding of other students’ experiences and backgrounds


  1. Identify aligning with discussion with course outcomes or unit objectives.(ex. Course Outcome: Students will work collaboratively to develop proposals for community development
  2. Develop the discussion prompt.(ex. Share your personal experience with community development efforts in your town or city.)
  3. Identify when the discussion should occur. and the desired elements and depth of the post. (ex. A good post should name an experience, define the depth of the experience, and provide some judgment on the value or success of the experience.)
  4. Identify the kind of feedback or response necessary to accomplish the desired outcome. (ex. Students will respond to one other student’s post and make a connection or contrast to their personal experience.)
  5. Determine what your role needs to be in this discussion. (ex. I will summarize my experiences in the following in-class session.
  6. Identify what activities will occur before and after the discussion. (ex. Students will review examples of past community development proposals in the Canvas Modules tool before the discussion. Following the discussion, I will take the feedback and use it to form the groups for their community development proposals.
  7. Create the discussion post in Canvas
  8. In the discussion description, include statements on how the discussion supports specific course outcomes.
  9. Develop and post an example of a successful post.
  10. Guide students on how they should interact with the discussion post. (ex. By Wednesday at midnight, students should post their responses. By midnight on Thursday, students should read and respond to students' posts.)
  11. Identify how/if the post will be graphed (ex. This discussion will be worth five points. I will use the following rubric to evaluate your post: 1) the post identified a community development project, 2) the post summarized their experience or role in the project, and 3) the post made a judgment on the effectiveness of the project.)

Keywordsstudent introductions, online discussionsDoc ID103600
OwnerTimmo D.GroupInstructional Resources
Created2020-07-03 13:21:16Updated2024-04-16 12:58:39
SitesCenter for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
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