IT Connect
Information technology tools and resources at the UW

Encourage Student Discussion

Engaged, vibrant student discussion can be a crucial part of learning, but is sometimes limited by class time. In a large class, an open discussion may be impossible to manage. Email and electronic discussion tools extend opportunities for interaction, provide students with a chance to contribute, and allow students to compose their thoughts in writing.

Common Goals

  • extending class discussion beyond class sessions
  • improving student writing skills
  • creating a non-threatening forum for exchange
  • archiving class discussions
  • encouraging the expression of diverse viewpoints


  • Electronic discussion

    Email and a suite of other tools in this category can help you disseminate information widely and coordinate group discussions. Create email distribution lists that facilitate continued conversation about course material outside of class time. Study groups and project teams can also coordinate their efforts online through email and online discussion groups. Mailman is the Web-based email list manager supported by UW Technology, and can help you set up and manage email lists for courses or other groups.

  • Catalyst GoPost tool

    GoPost allows you to create a Web-based discussion board where your students can compare notes, discuss assignments, post attachments, and work together online. By exchanging and building upon each other’s ideas, students are encouraged to work and learn together. Messages can be posted and read with any Web browser. Participants can post a variety of materials in GoPost, including links, sound, and video files. Use GoPost to host group projects, from music compositions to research studies. You have control over who has access to the GoPost forum, and you can even allow students to use alternate screen names to make them feel more comfortable. Planning considerations

  • Wiki

    A wiki is a Web site that can be viewed and easily edited by anyone with Internet access and a Web browser. They can be a very useful tool for student collaboration and cooperation. Not only can students easily collaborate on a project using a wiki, they can also easily make it public and invite experts in the field to react to their contribution.

Campus Resources

  • Learning Technologies Workshops – UW-IT offers workshops to help you use the tools you need to address the diverse learning styles of your students. Participation in these workshops is free for all UW instructors, employees, and students. Advance registration is required for some workshops.
  • Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) – CTL offers a variety of resources and services designed to promote effective teaching and learning. The center is open to all UW faculty and teaching assistants.