CSC 442 - ECCE - Section B
"Internet and American Life"
University of Illinois at Springfield
  Spring 2014
Prof. Burks Oakley II

Discussion Questions

Discussion questions (DQ's) are used in online classes to stimulate thought, disseminate information, share ideas and, in general, to provide a connection among course participants and between the participants and the instructor. Questions, answers, and follow-up messages are posted in discussion forums and a "threaded" discussion is created.  These messages can be replied to by others and a conversation is developed.  The DQ's are where much of the learning in this course will take place, participation in these discussions is worth more points in the course than any other assignment.

Overall, the objective for discussion questions is to:

Student-Led Discussions in CSC 442

Each week in CSC 442, we will be reading several articles from the Pew Internet Project (PIP), also known as the Pew "Internet and American Life" Project.  As part of your weekly assignment, you will participate in discussions of these readings with the other students in the class.

You will be asked to lead a discussion each week; the discussions will take place in the Discussion Forum area of Blackboard.  Each week, you will pick some topic from the readings and pose a question related to this topic for other students to answer.  When other students respond to your initial posting, you will moderate the ensuing discussion (this is referred to as a "student-led discussion").  As the moderator of your own student-led discussion, you will guide the dialogue, stimulate participation, and seek clarification when necessary. Of course, to make this work, you will have to participate in at least three (3) other students' discussions each week.

Why am I asking YOU to frame your own questions and then discuss all this with the other students?  It may be helpful for you to read The Role of Questions in Thinking, Teaching, & Learning, from the Critical Thinking Community.

Basic Requirements of a Student-Led Discussion

There are three requirements for successful student-led discussions:

The Two Cardinal Rules for Creating a Discussion Response

A cardinal rule is a rule that is so important that, if you violate it, will have dire (as in dreadful, evil, dismal, horrible, terrible) consequences.  If you don't follow these two rules, your grade in the course will suffer.

When you create a posting in the discussion forums in Blackboard, you must correctly complete two "editable" fields in order to receive credit for your response:  the Subject field and the Message field.  One cardinal rule applies to each of these fields.

Cardinal Rule #1:  Your message must introduce new and relevant information.

Your job in composing a message is to provide new information that is appropriate to the issue being discussed.  In brief, here are the major things I look for in your discussion messages:

Cardinal Rule #2:  You must create a Subject field that conveys the essence, or main point, of your message.

It is not enough to just use the topic, or just a keyword or key phrase as your subject.  For each posting, you must create a short sentence (5-10 words) that summarizes of the main point that you are making in that message.  The goal here is to state the main idea of your message in the subject line.  Remember, you can't just mention the topic that you are writing about - you must summarize your main point in a sentence.  And you must do this for EACH and EVERY posting you make in Blackboard.  This requirement is intended to accomplish three goals:

Remember, your subject line should NOT begin with Re:, and it should be a short sentence.

Best Practice

When you create a discussion response:

How I Evaluate Your Discussion Responses

For each weekly discussion forum, I will evaluate your total work (the sum of all of your postings) on a ten (10) point scale.  I will post your weekly grade to the gradebook in Blackboard, so that you always will have an idea of how well you are doing in the course.

Note that both the Subject and the Message will be used to determine your score on any discussion posting, so it is possible for you to write a great message but have an unacceptable subject line, leading to a low score for that posting.

Discussion Responses - In a Nutshell

In a nutshell, each of your postings should:

The student-led discussion approach and the Two Cardinal Rules were originally developed by Prof. Bill Pelz, of Herkimer County Community College.  Adapted for use in CSC 442 with permission.

Last Updated 2 January 2014 by Burks Oakley II (

Copyright 2014