What is it?

The asynchronous online discussion forum is an online discussion board where teachers and students can post contributions to an ongoing discussion in their own pace. The online discussion fora differ in particularities of courses and pedagogical purposes and a course may include several online discussion fora for different tasks.

See examples of how you can start a discussion here.

What is the value?

  • All students can contribute to discussions
  • Asynchronicity allows students with different daily rhythms and in different time zones to interact
  • Asynchronicity allows time to reflect and carefully construct contributions
  • Students learn from one another
  • Students become part of an online learning community
Didactic Tips
  • Design online discussion tasks where the students practice using the discussion fora
  • Design online discussion tasks where the students get to know each other (applies to fully online courses)
  • Define rules of “netiquette” (e.g.: http://teaching.colostate.edu/tips/tip.cfm?tipid=128)
  • Have mandatory participation in discussions
  • Define criteria for active participation
  • Set deadlines for first and last posting
  • Combine online discussions with other activities
  • Have group sizes at 8-10
  • For fully online courses, we recommend using the didactic framework ”The five-stage model” by Gilly Salmon. (A brief introduction: http://itlc.science.ku.dk/ressourcer/rapport/model/)

Preparing the online discussion

  • Define one or more learning objectives for the discussion task.
  • Define the task for the students.
  • Think the discussion through in relation to the learning objectives for the discussion task and make a moderator guide for yourself which you can use when you moderate the discussion.
  • Find the relevant learning resources for the students.
  • Find a good appetizer/spark that introduces the topic in a short and simple way.

Running the online discussion

  • Lead the students in the right direction
  • Encourage the students to answer – instead of giving the answer yourself.
  • Feed the discussion with questions continuously
  • Make a discussion summary or have the students make a summary and then you comment on it
  • Lift the academic quality of the discussion by correcting misunderstandings, concluding, adding new perspectives etc.

Which Software Should I choose?

At UCPH it would be obvious to use our own platform, Absalon. You login through KUnet.

You can read more at this page.

Even more

Getting started
To get started you can add a discussion fora to your course site in Absalon.
Watch this short video on how to add a discussion forum in Absalon (1 min.)
If you want to know more about how to use the discussion fora, please contact the e-learning consultants at your faculty


How to add a discussion forum in Absalon (Videotutorial 1 min.)
Online discussion guide (text)
Developing asynchronous discussion forums (pamphlet)

Homepage of Gilly Salmon about online moderating
Netiquette – an example
Online and Blended Learning at the Department of Food and Resource Economics
The Five stage model by Gilly Salmon
The Five stage model (a brief introduction)


Henriksen, C.B., Monty, A., Porter, J.R. (2010). Globalt læringsmiljø om et globalt problem, article in Læring og Medier, 3(6).
Salmon, G. (2000). E-moderating. 3. edition. Routledge Taylor and Francis Group, New York and London, 2011.
Salmon, G. (2002). E-tivities. Routledge Taylor and Francis Group, New York and London.
Skovgaard, I., Markussen, B., Thorsen, M., & Carlsen D. (2010). I did it – Om ph.d.- og efteruddannelseskurset, ”Applied Statistics for Researchers and Developers”, carried out as interactive online learning, article in Læring om Medier, 3(6).

If you want to know more about how to get started, please contact the e-learning consultants at your faculty.