How To Write Engaging Questions for Online Discussion Forums

Online asynchronous discussions are often incorporated by faculty into blended or online courses, providing opportunities for rich dialog among students outside of the traditional face-to-face classroom environment. A number of steps can be taken to promote an engaging and interactive online discussion, beginning with drafting the discussion questions that students are asked to respond to. This infographic highlights a variety of suggestions that can yield more meaningful and deeper online discussions.

How to Write Engaging Questions for Online Forums Infographic
Source: BangTheTable

For students in my summer course, ETT 511, you may in particular find these tips helpful as you draft the discussion questions for the week your group facilitates.

What additional suggestions do you have for writing engaging questions for online discussion forums?  Feel free to leave a comment with your ideas!


  • Tom Moffitt

    Why do we require a specific number of replies to a discussion question? Why not let the richness and relevance of the question determine the minimum level of engagement?

    • Tom – Fantastic question, one in which I go back and forth with personally every time I teach an online course. In the ideal world, if all students in the core would become engaged in the conversation, then any minimum participation requirement is pointless. However, it’s been my experience that students appreciate having at least a guideline of what the baseline participation expectations are and sadly, some just stick to the minimum. The ideal is certainly to have discussion questions that create such a lively conversation that any minimum participation requirements are mute.

  • Tania

    Thanks Dr.Rhode, I am a a student in an professional development for online course design and this week the assignment is design 1 module. It was perfect timing to come across this visual – I shared it in our class forum to inspire our instructors as they design their activities.

  • T

    Jason – I like your tips – but looking at them carefully many of your suggested questions are longer than the originally poorly phrased one – seemingly then in contradiction to your point about pith? Thoughts?