Asynchronous discussions facilitate communication through text, video, audio, and/or images, and allows people to post and respond to each other in staggered time, based on the individual’s availability. As opposed to synchronous (real-time) communication, asynchronous communication allows learners to develop their thoughts more deeply because they have preparation and reflection time when not actively participating; they can review, research, and curate additional materials to incorporate into their contributions in the forum.
Discussions can be used for different purposes: introductions and community building, content engagement, real-world application, reflection, experience sharing and story-telling, problem solving, critical analysis, and debate. The forums can be organized as whole-class or small groups. Anchored (or “focused”) forums are short-lived and task-oriented (e.g. weekly forum for questions related to activities). Threaded forums are persistent and process-oriented long-standing spaces that let students refine complex ideas throughout a course.
Currently, the most common tools to facilitate asynchronous discussions are Canvas Discussions and Piazza. Learn more about the affordances of each tool by reviewing, Canvas Discussions vs. Piazza and review the detailed info below.