As more and more courses go online, interaction and knowledge building among students rely primarily on asynchronous threaded discussions. For something that is so central to online learning, current research and literature have provided instructors with little support as to how they can facilitate and maintain high-quality conversations among students in these learning environments. This article responds to this need by offering three strategies instructors can use to ensure educationally valuable talk in their online classes.
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
Online Student Engagement
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.
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.
One instructor’s study of student participation in online discussions in two of his asynchronous online courses over a five-year period has yielded some interesting results that have influenced how he conducts his courses.
How do you motivate online learners?
It’s an age-old question that continues to stump online instructors as well as the managers of distance education programs trying to solve the attrition problem that continues to drag down this otherwise thriving segment of higher education.
In the online classroom, faculty work hard to engage their distance learners and build a strong sense of academic community in the electronic setting. Screencasting can be an effective and easy way to do this. Screencasting allows you to take a digital video of what you are doing on your computer desktop, and most screencasting tools allow you to narrate your video while recording. The possible uses for screencasting are endless; these include providing course orientations, delivering instructional lectures, providing feedback, and encouraging student sharing.
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,
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
Cognitive engagement is important to student success in any learning environment. However, cognitive engagement takes on more significance in the online learning environment, where students learn in a physically isolated environment and often lack elements that typically engage students in the face-to-face classroom.
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