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Masterclass announcement: Planning online discussion forums

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We are delighted to announce our first Masterclass for TELFest 2019, facilitated by guest presenters Silvia Vogel and Kirsten Schliephake from Monash University. Many courses are delivered online in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences and use discussion forums as the means of peer and teacher interaction.

Planning online discussions; work smarter, not harder

Silvia Vogel and Kirsten Schliephake, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University

Online discussion forums are a critical way to engage with students, but can often remain empty of contributions. Facilitating and moderating these forums successfully is key to engaging students online. In this Masterclass, participants will explore strategies and opportunities to foster a positive student and teacher experience in discussion forums. In preparing educators to develop relevant and authentic discussion forums, aligned to content and learning outcomes, this Masterclass takes a design thinking approach where the student experience is considered.

This session will be a mixture of presentation and hands-on activities to:

  1. Identify when, why and how to use a discussion forum to foster student engagement and promote deeper learning
  2. Identify strategies to facilitate and moderate online discussion forums
  3. Equip you with tips and tools to effectively plan your next online discussion forum.


Silvia Vogel has extensive experience in the higher education sector in a variety of roles related to educational and instructional design, quality and program management. Silvia has also taught online, distance education and blended course in Sociology, where she developed an interest in the relationship between technology and education. In recent years Silvia has incorporated UX/LX and design thinking/service delivery approaches to her work in eLearning in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, and has been involved in the development of a curriculum mapping tool for the Faculty and the university.

Kirsten Schliephake is a passionate educator with a strong desire for uniting practical, authentic experiences with lifelong learning. Kirsten has taught undergraduate and postgraduate biochemistry and microbiology on-campus, cross-campus with international cohorts and in distance education. In her current role as Senior Educational Designer in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Kirsten works as a change agent and influences strategic directives that include blended and online learning transformation, identifying and implementing innovative approaches to education delivery and student experience, professional development, policy development and assessment innovation.

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