Meaningful online discussions that promote learning and build community usually do not happen spontaneously. They require planning, good use of questioning techniques, and incentives for student participation.
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Student participation is perhaps the biggest challenge of teaching online courses, says Deborah Raines, professor and director of the Accelerated Second-Degree BSN Program at Florida
“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.
One of the biggest problems with doing group projects online (and face-to-face) is student resistance, says Jan Engle, coordinator of instruction development at Governors State
In a study of student participation in threaded discussions, Scott Warnock, an assistant professor of English at Drexel University, found that students who post early in threaded discussions tend to do better (as measured by course grades) than those who procrastinate.
If you’re looking to improve threaded discussions in your online courses, consider using brief video clips as discussion prompts. When carefully selected and integrated into a course, these clips can lead students to higher-order thinking and appeal to auditory and visual learning styles.
Opportunities for meaningful synchronous and asynchronous interaction are plentiful, provided you design and facilitate your online course in the correct manner and with the proper tools. This free report provides practical advice on effective ways to promote learning and build a sense of community in your online courses.