Asynchronous discussions are often utilized in online courses to provide a venue for students to openly communicate and build shared understanding, and for instructors to skillfully facilitate the process. While discussions can be invaluable toward creating and sustaining an online community of inquiry (CoI), they are not effective if not optimally designed. It is the authors’ position that it is helpful to identify research-proven online discussion strategies and conceptualize them into the CoI framework, which has been extensively studied and validated. This framework posits that there are three interrelated presences – social, cognitive, and teaching – that must be perceived by members in order to facilitate a successful educational experience. Classifying strategies within this framework may guide instructors to purposefully select and employ methods that encourage productive, efficient, and meaningful discussions. Strategies, such as providing prompt but modest feedback, peer facilitation, protocol discussion prompts, and providing audio feedback, were found to support multiple presences in a review of the literature. Based on these findings, it is argued that educators need to employ discussion strategies that integrate all three presences in order to support an effective online CoI.
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