One skill everyone needs for collaborative discussions is active listening, a way of responding to what other people say with your own questions and comments. Active listening is based on the idea that you can't add to a conversation in a meaningful way unless you listen carefully and think about what you hear.
When discussing a story that you read, for instance, you should think about how your own ideas about the story relate to what someone else has said, and then describe that connection, before explaining your own idea.
If your discussion happens in an online course instead of in a classroom, active listening will look a little different. You may be typing a response in a discussion thread instead of speaking with your classmate's face to face. If so, you can use the same tools that allow you to post comments to reply to your classmates.
Use this exercise to practice active listening: