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Distance (or distributed) learning, via the Internet in particular is fast becoming one of the most popular ventures of colleges and universities across the globe. Research on delivery modes and their correlation to student achievement outcomes has shown that students learn better via teletraining mode than face-to-face instruction. One explanation for this phenomenon is that the students must take more responsibility for, and be more active in, the learning process. Different media for distance learning are being explored, from CD-ROMs to web-based classrooms. This study looks at how the media used in one aspect of distance education, on-line discussion, can affect the learning outcomes for students involved in distance learning activities. On-line discussion within any learning environment can provide the opportunity for students to engage in thoughtful, content-based conversations about the topic under study, which may result in deeper understanding and greater learning gains. A content analysis of student discussion in listserv-based (electronic-mail) discussion, web-based threaded discussion, and chat discussion using data from two courses is presented, The courses included in this analysis encompass a general education physics course and an undergraduate/graduate combined educational technology course. The impact of the use of the three discussion formats on student learning outcomes are also discussed.