Exercise: Discussion on Readings in Common

Summary of Example Activity

Students prepare assigned readings and participate in a synchronous discussion via video-conferencing software or an asynchronous discussion with classmates on a blog, forum in a LMS or on a social media platform such as Facebook. An asynchronous discussion usually requires an assigned amount of posts (3 total posts/1 new thread and 2 responses to other students’ posts/1 500 word response and 1 response to another student’s post.

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • Identify the important concepts from course material.
  • Explore how course topics are differently understood and experienced.
  • Demonstrate critical thought about the topic.
  • Develop online intercultural communication skills
  • Develop an understanding of how to work within different learning styles, regional/national perspectives and time zones.
  • Explore how the main concepts are differently understood and experienced (more pronounced if the students have different training or experience).
  • Reflect on the skills necessary and the challenges one must overcome to work on a national/international collaboration.

Materials and Data Needed

Students will prepare for the discussion by completing the assigned readings and any other materials.

Technology Needed

If the classes participate in a synchronous activity, the classroom will need access to video-conferencing software, an internet connection and preferably a projector or large television. Asynchronous discussions require access to a blog such as WordPress, a forum on a Learning Management System such as Moodle, or a forum available in social media tools such as Facebook.

Estimated Time

A synchronous discussion session would last the length of a class period. An asynchronous discussion can be opened over the course of a few days to a week to allow students the time to consider the material, post a thoughtful piece and comment on another/other student/students’posts.


  1. If the activity requires participation in an online discussion students should are given access to the forum where they will post their reflections and comments. This should be done at least 2 weeks in advance to ensure that all students have the required hardware and software to participate and to allow time to troubleshoot any problems students may have with access.
  2. Students are given the parameters of any discussion in which they are expected to participate. They should be prepared to interact with the other class via video-conferencing, or in a discussion online. If online, students should be aware of how many posts are required for the activity and the window in which they are expected to post their reflections and comments.
  3. Students should be assigned the necessary material to prepare them for the discussion.
  4. In the case of a synchronous discussion, students report to class as usual. In the case of an asynchronous discussion students are assigned to participate in the discussion in lieu of class or outside of scheduled class time.
  5. In the case of an asynchronous discussion, students post the required reflections and comments on each other’s reflections over the course of the assigned time period.