The discussion area is an important component of Open SUNY-Powered courses. Since the instructor and students do not meet face-to-face, there may not be much of an opportunity for real-time interaction on a regular basis. The discussion area within the Learning Management System (LMS) provides an opportunity for asynchronous conversations in which one individual can post a message at one time and another individual can respond at a later date or time.
In a discussion forum, all postings are neatly located in one place and can be viewed in a “threaded” format, which makes it very easy to follow conversations and see who is responding to whom. Asynchronous discussion forums often lead to a very thoughtful and engaging exchange of ideas as students have time to think about and reflect on their response prior to posting. Asynchronous discussion forums also work to build a class community and contribute to creating a learning environment where students feel connected when they all may not be physically located in a single geographic area.