Posted by Melissa
- Imagine that you are about to lead a discussion in a subject that you teach. Based on the required and any optional readings, what aspect(s) of leading or preparing to lead a discussion stand out to you as the most important, and why?
The most important parts of leading a discussion are
- Establishing a safe environment.
- Having students be aware of the grading rubric
- Having students be aware of an “I agree” versus a more substantial post. They should also understand how the grading works for both.
- Having students understand when to start a new thread vs continuing ideas in an already existing thread.
- Having it in an environment where it is easy for me to keep track of who posted, when they posted, what they said, and who they were responding to.
- Having it in an environment where students can easily keep track of what they posted and where it was posted- our set-up of Moodle 2 does not seem to allow that to happen anymore. I have not played with my Moodle set-up enough yet to see if Moodle2 can do it at all.
- Having students’ email addresses so I can reply to them privately and off of the discussion board.
- Encouraging students to share their ideas.
(Choose and respond to one of the following)
2a. What obstacles have hindered the use and effectiveness of online discussions in a class you have taught or taken?
I would love to respond to both of these, but for now I will just address the first one because most of the discussion areas in the BSU classes have been less effective for me than they were in the community college classes I took online. Actually I was really spoiled in Alex’s classes because they were so well organized and were really easy for me to follow ideas, figure out where I had posted so I could see if anybody replied to my posts, and they were very safe environments. I was as clueless as my peers in those classes.
A few environments that were ineffective were ones where:
- Students do not start their own thread with their initial post.
- The deadline for the initial post is not set at a reasonable time frame.
- The deadlines for follow-up posts are not set for a reasonable amount of time after the initial posts are required.
- Netiquette is taken to an extreme. (I tend to be too frank in my posts at times.)
- I have used VoiceThread with students and found grading their discussion to be a nightmare. I did this before I even had a clue Moodle existed and at the time was the only safe way I could figure out how to enroll students onto a discussion board. I used space at a “free” phpBB board and often tried to get students to be able to do discussions there, but there was always some logistical hang-up that got in the way. I don’t know php and don’t remember why I was not able to get students to engage with that setting, but the phpBB’s failed and VoiceThread was more energy consuming than effective.
- In one online class, our discussion board was a list-serve. Yeah, doing discussions via email was less than organized or productive.
A couple environments that were effective or slightly effective were:
- WebCT with new science teachers. Here we discussed various ways of teaching different science concepts with our students. It was with the eMSS program, of which I was a part from 2003-2007. I was a facilitator in the chemistry area for two years.
- Blackboard with my student teachers. I used to teach science student teachers. They were required to do a reflection each week. The first year I taught with the program, I followed what I was told to do. Students emailed their reflections to one of the two instructors who by themselves gave feedback to the student who sent in the reflection. I wanted to make the reflection part of the course more interactive because I am not the source of all knowledge. Our students were very talented people who also had good ideas or may have been able to commiserate. I was able to talk my co-instructor into letting students turn their weekly entries in to a discussion board in the Blackboard course I set up for our class on the weeks they were to be turned in to me. She did not want to bother with Blackboard or to share the authority on teaching with the students who were obviously too inept to share constructive ideas with their peers. What little I was able to do with my student teaching graduate students was as good as I could hope it would be given the opposition I faced from my superior co-instructor. This happened fall 2005.
- I did get to use Moodle with my students once and that worked great for me, but since it was their first time, our product was not as good as I imagined it could be. I did not know how to use Moodle at that time so I was learning how to use it as they were. I had facilitated discussions with WebCT many years before so I knew the concept of a threaded discussion, but Moodle was a new environment. My students wanted to use Facebook but our IT person told us at the beginning of the year that we were prohibited from using fb with kids. That, of course, did not stop the cool teachers from using fb with their kids so my popularity got another ding by not using fb.
- I took a SQL class online where we had to turn in our homework assignments to the discussion forums. Our instructor set it up so that you could not see what other people posted until you posted your solution. This was effective because you could not cheat by looking up the answers before posting your own solution. Plus after you posted your ideas and then you saw how others solved the problem, then you could learn from your mistakes. She did have a discussion forum set up for each week’s major assignment where we could post questions to solicit help from the instructor or our peers. I almost failed the course, but not because of how the discussion forums were organized.
2b. Based on your experience with online discussions as a teacher and/or a student, what techniques do you consider most effective for soliciting interaction and critical thought? Are there experiences you have found particularly fulfilling or frustrating?
This is the question I did not answer
Posted in 1.2 Message Design, 1.3 Instructional Strategies, 1.4 Learner characteristics, 2.3 Computer-Based Technologies, 3.1 Media Utilization, 3.4 Policies and Regulations, 4.1 Project Management, 4.3 Delivery System Management, 4.4 Information Management, 5.2 Criterion-referenced Measurement, 5.3 Formative and Summative Evaluation, EDTECH 523