This book is intended to support instructors who are newer to online teaching (or newer to using online tools for supporting in-class teaching), but it may also be helpful for those who have already been teaching online and/or integrating online discussions into their courses for a number of years and are looking for ways to improve their practice.

The inspiration for this book emerged from the work of a small professional learning group at the University of Toronto that began early into the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. This group of faculty members were grappling with the unexpected realities of having to shift their entire instruction to a remote learning context. Some had been teaching online for many years. Others had no prior experience with online teaching, and minimal experience with integrating online tools into their in-class teaching. In working through the challenges of adapting to remote teaching, this group quickly came to the realization that this kind of professional learning support was not only beneficial to them but also greatly needed on a broader scale across other programs and institutions. And so, work on this book began with the intent of sharing what was learned in an easily digestible and practical format for other instructors.

Each chapter has been designed  to be read on its own, as its own starting point, and/or in conjunction with other chapters. Each chapter begins with “Setting the Context,” a personal narrative that describes why the topic is important to the author; a “Scenario” that provides an example situation on the topic being discussed in the chapter; “Learning Outcomes” and “Key Terms.” Throughout the balance of the chapter, a number of self-directed learning prompts (e.g., ”Pause and Consider”)  encourage readers to consider their own understandings and individual teaching contexts in relation to the ideas and examples being shared. The final section of each chapter provides a short reflection on the original scenario that allows the authors to propose what could have been done differently at the outset.


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Designing for Meaningful Synchronous and Asynchronous Discussion in Online Courses Copyright © 2022 by Kim MacKinnon; Lesley Wilton; Shelley Murphy; Brenda Stein Dzaldov; Dania Wattar; Jacob DesRochers; and Alison Mann is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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