Beyond the Discussion Board: Increasing Participation and Engagement in Synchronous and Asynchronous Online Interactions


  • Courtney Baker Graduate School of Education
  • Darlene Smucny Distance Education
  • Monisha Tripathy Distance Education



teaching online, learning strategies, student motivation, reflective teaching practice, graduate student learning, collaborative learning


Online instructors are faced with challenges of facilitating four types of interactions in a virtual learning environment: learner-content, learner-instructor, learner-learner, and learner-technology. Research shows that active learner involvement in the online classroom positively impacts student learning, satisfaction, and retention. How can instructors motivate their students to meaningfully engage and interact with their classmates online, synchronously and/or asynchronously? This session is designed for individuals who would like to increase student engagement, interaction, and participation in online courses, through synchronous and asynchronous components. We explore examples of synchronous and asynchronous collaborative learning opportunities in which students are participating via productive online discussions and activities, engaging all learning styles. From online courses in the Mathematics Specialist Program (CEHD), we share best practices and strategies to increase engagement and interactions in synchronous online classes through specific discussion prompts and grouping strategies, using the interactive platform Blackboard Collaborate. From Mason distance education courses (Office of Distance Education), we highlight examples of asynchronous online activities, which promote collaborative and cooperative learning. To benefit from this session, previous experience teaching courses in Blackboard is not required. The information in this session may be transferable to other online learning platforms, across disciplines, and delivery formats.





10:30am-11:10am Mini-Workshops, Panels, & Roundtables