I have been experimenting with using the online D2L Discussion tool to meet the STSE expectations in both my Blended Learning and eLearning courses. With all of the discussion forums, beforehand students are given some suggested reading from the course text or web articles, pages, etc. to give them background information and as a starting point for their research. Usually students have between one and two weeks to complete the discussion assignment in its entirety, but this depends on the number of questions and other factors. Some class time is given, but students are expected to post on their own time as well.
In D2L it is possible now to divide the class into groups so that students only see posts from 3 or 4 other classmates, instead of being overwhelmed with the number of posts in an entire class. This is much more manageable for the students and for myself as I am able to follow each group’s discussion more easily.