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Studium Biologie For lecturers

Online Discussion

Student's benefit:

  • Interaction, collaboration, feedback, problem solving, higher-level thinking
  • Asynchronous communication can promote higher-level-thinking. The students have more time to reflect on statements of others before they add their own contribution.
  • Synchronous chats provide immediate feedback and are also important for the learning process.

Teaching enrichment:

  • Discussions can be lead in significant directions with depth of thoughts
  • Probative questions support the discussion. Students are continually encouraged to define what they know - and more importantly - what they do not know
  • Students are encouraged to summarise their knowledge and connect new concepts to old ones.
  • Synchronous chats give immediate feedback during lecture, seminar or conference.

Teaching and learning methods:

  • The utilization of a forum parallel to a lecture allows constant feedback and keeping track with the problems of the students.
  • Probative questions or brainstorming can lead to ne findings and ideas.

Promote critical thinking

Asynchronous communication can promote higher level thinking. Students have more time to reflect on statements of their fellow students before they post their own opinion. With help of the instructor or group leader the discussion can be lead in a significant direction with depth of thoghts. Probative questions support the discussion. It has the advantage that reluctant people can/have to express their thoughts equally to more dominant students.

A asynchronous communication forum suits best for Problem-based learning (PBL). Students learn critical thinking and problem solving skills and acquire knowledge of the essential concepts of the course. Using PBL, students acquire life long learning skills which include the ability to find and use appropriate learning resources. Students are presented with a problem. Students (in groups) organize their ideas and previous knowledge related to the problem, and attempt to define the broad nature of the problem. Throughout discussion, students pose questions, called "learning issues", on aspects of the problem that they do not understand. These learning issues are recorded by the group (forum). Students are continually encouraged to define what they know - and more importantly - what they don't know. Students rank, in order of importance, the learning issues generated in the session. They decide which questions will be followed up by the whole group, and which issues can be assigned to individuals, who later teach the rest of the group. Students and instructor also discuss what resources will be needed in order to research the learning issues, and where they could be found. When students reconvene, they explore the previous learning issues, integrating their new knwoledge into the context of the problem. Students are also encouraged to summarize their knowledge and connect new concepts to old ones. They continue to define new learning issues as they progress through the problem. Students soon see that learning is an ongoing process, and that there will always be (even for the teacher) learning issues to be explored.


  • Email
  • Electronic mailing list
  • Internet forum
  • Text message (SMS), iMessage
  • Bulletin Board System


  • Data conferencing
  • Instant messaging
  • Internet Realy Chat
  • LAN messenger
  • Talker
  • Videoconferencing
  • Voice chat
  • VoIP
  • Web chat
  • Web conferencing
  • FaceTime




MAC & Windows  


OLAT-Forum functionalities:

  • Editing and deleting all posts in a forum; attaching files.
  • Prioritizing threads (sticky): a certain discussion subject will always appear on top of a list.
  • Closing discussion: it will no longer be possible to reply to a certain discussion subject.
  • Hiding discussion: a certain subject will no longer appear in the forum list.
  • Displaying discussion: hidden subject will be displayed anew.
  • Filter for persons: on the forum's overview page posts of every single course participant can be displayed.
  • Archiving forum: posts (as MS Word) and attached files will be zipped before storing them in your personal folder.

OLAT File dialog functionalities:

  • The course element "File dialog" provides you with preset discussion forums; in contrast to an ordinary forum, dialogs here are explicitly based on certain documents. Use such a file dialog to let your course participants discuss e.g. scientific articles or papers.

OLAT Chat functionalities:

  • The synchronous course chat functionality is simple and easy to use. All course participants can chat with each other. For example, you could be online and use the chat during a question hour.




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