This paper considers a number of uses of asynchronous discussion in engineering education, highlighting the benefits to learners and the issues which need to be considered. The main context is the use of computer conferencing by distance learners of technology at the UK Open University. The paper focuses on two courses where computer conferencing has been used in different ways: for optional peer support; and for assessed group activities. A number of questions about the use of asynchronous discussion are considered in the light of experience from these two contexts. The paper also indicates where more research is needed, considers how this research might be carried out, and discusses the difficulties involved
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