Are you having trouble getting students to participate in online discussions? Consider using other types of prompts in addition to the typical open-ended question. Maria Ammar, assistant English professor at Frederick Community College, uses the following prompts in her English as a second language course and recommends them for other types of courses:
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
Discussion boards are often viewed as the heart of online courses, and for good reason: the students can interact with one another 24/7, sharing, debating, and offering ideas, insights, suggestions, and information that stimulate the learning process. Yet challenges do happen in discussion, and these can be formidable. Left alone, they can quickly limit the effectiveness of any discussion and create problems throughout the online course.
Keith Restine, associate director of distance education, and Allison Peterson, senior instructional designer, both at Texas Woman’s University, offer the following tips for reducing instructor
If you teach a skills-based course and wonder how online discussion can enhance the learning experience, consider Roger Gee’s approach to the use of online discussions in his introduction to accounting course.
After some trial and error, I have hit upon a discussion set up that seems to promote the kind of depth and breadth of engagement with the course material and with each other that I would ideally like to elicit. Students are asked to read between two-to-four pieces of literature (poetry, short stories, essays) and to participate in two discussion boards per week – one group discussion and one pair discussion. For both, they must post an initial answer to a question I pose by Tuesday. Then, by Friday at noon, they must read at least what they’re groupmates have posted and post at least one reply/follow-up.
Several years ago, a colleague suggested that having students lead discussions in the online classroom would be a good idea. I agreed and searched the literature for research on this topic but found nothing. No one at that point had been looking at having students moderate, or they hadn’t written about it. I still thought it was a good idea and decided to pursue this line of research by having my students moderate and follow up with an end-of-course student questionnaire.
Students with disabilities are drawn to online courses for many of the same reasons as everyone else, but it’s often the anonymity that makes learning
The online learning environment offers great potential for individualized learning. One way to achieve this is through adaptive hypermedia—using learner use patterns to adapt course presentation, navigation, and content to suit individual students’ needs and preferences.
At the heart of every online course is the discussion forum. This is where ideas, information, and new material are shared, discussed, analyzed, built upon,
“There is no personal interaction between student and teacher…the spontaneity of teaching is lost…the only rapport exists in exchanging bits and bytes of info.”
Perhaps you’ve heard someone make this objection to online learning? Or even uttered it yourself?
My answer to this is very simple: hogwash.