Online Course


  1. Participants will meet online in seven 2-hour synchronous sessions on Zoom. Each session is preceded by one hour of asynchronous preparatory work in Canvas.
  2. A limited number of participants will have access to free instructional consultation with the Discussion Project staff during or after the course sessions.

For those who have taken the Discussion Project in-person course in the past, you will find some material to be similar, though every principle or activity addresses the challenges and affordances of discussion in the online environment.


Your Discussion Project instructors – we hope to see you soon!

Modules / Topics

  1. Building Online Community
  2. Defining Discussion
  3. Structuring Discussion & Crafting Questions
  4. Whole Class Facilitation
  5. Discussion Plans & Assessment
  6. Planning a Discussion
  7. Maintaining Community

Learning Objectives

Instructors will…

  1. Understand how the characteristics of online communication affect discussion and classroom climate and account for these in their discussion plans.
  2. Take responsibility for creating an equitable and inclusive classroom climate conducive to high quality discussion by implementing strategies that engage all students.
  3. Distinguish between discussion and other forms of student talk/interaction.
  4. Learn how to structure online discussion.
  5. Effectively plan, implement, and reflect on discussion plans.
  6. Understand the purposes of assessment in and for discussion.
  7. Implement strategies that develop students’ discussion skills.

Gil Nathanson

Professor of Chemistry, UW-Madison

“I am a chemistry professor who was just preparing to teach a 20 person graduate class when I participated in the Discussion Project. For the first time in my three decade career, I had the opportunity to discuss, debate, and revel in ideas presented by a wide swath of teachers across the university. I was startled by the originality and freshness of the suggestions, many of which can be translated to teaching science. I would gladly recommend the Discussion Project to all who are interested, even if you are an instructor in a large class.”

Brandon Bloch

Assistant Professor of History, UW-Madison


“Thanks so much for sending along this explanation, and for your coaching throughout the instructional consultations. I found the Discussion Project to be such a productive and eye-opening experience, and I’ll definitely recommend it to my colleagues. I’m already finding ways to apply the methodologies we discussed to my teaching.”