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Although questions are important in all learning settings, they are especially important in the online classroom. Certain practices for questioning used within the traditional classroom do not apply to the online education environment. Strategies such as wait time, eye contact, and tone are not relevant. Lack of voice inflection and sole reliance on text-based communication can lead to misunderstandings. Questions posed in the online setting can be more easily misunderstood than those posed in the classroom.
Questions can also help online students engage with others. When an instructor poses a specific question to a student, or student group, the students can assume that the instructor is truly interested in what they think, feel, and know. Questions can also be used to create an online dialog between students and instructors, thus increasing the dynamics of the online classroom. The use of questions may even serve as a form of motivation for students and help the student to feel more intimately involved in the online classroom. Classroom questioning can have similar benefits, with the added ease and advantage of nonverbal communication.
Best approaches to using questioning as a tool for engaging students in the online classroom have received little attention. On the basis of a project to explore the available literature regarding questioning in the online environment, this article highlights models and strategies for using questioning across diverse settings. Key points and tips for using questions in day-to-day assignments are provided.