It is often through online discussion that the highest quality of learning is developed in online courses. This is sometimes overlooked in the excitement of MOOCs, flipped classrooms, hybrid learning and other recent developments. There is substantial research to indicate that the quality of discussion can be as high, if not higher, online as in class, so long as 'best practices' are used.
Many of the features that are true for developing good discussion in class are also true for online discussion, but there are also some special requirements for ensuring, not only that the quality of discussion is high, but that all, or nearly all, student are participating.
See the attached PDF to explore these 'best practices'.