If you have an hour to spare, some really awesome topics are being presented in Learning Spaces & Instructional Technology Special Interest Group (SIG) and Minnesota Online Quality Initiative (MOQI) webinars. It is very easy to register, so just try out one of the topics of your interest and I am sure you will be back for more. 🙂
Here is another interesting post from Faculty Focus, written by Cheryl Hayek, associate provost at Grantham University, in 2012. To read the full article click here.
Hayek (2012) wrote: “Discussion forums are like dinner parties, and the instructor is the host. Personally welcoming each student into this new and unfamiliar place and making them feel like they belong in that environment is a necessity to help integrate them socially and academically into the course; key elements in all retention research. We know that retention is heavily reliant on that integration and students’ related satisfaction.”
Here are the steps she suggested. I quite enjoyed her analogy!
- Welcome EVERYONE personally at the door. (Online forum)
- Make sure every person feels comfortable in the new environment. (Tone)
- Don’t ignore anyone. (Reply to each student throughout the course)
- Disagreements are phrased professionally.
- No one should be silent, including the host! (Be present in forums)
- Serve them something delicious. (Content!)
- Invite them back! (To weekly forums, to the next assignment even if they’ve faltered on the previous one, to the university if they’ve finished your course)
- Proportionate time with every guest. (Don’t reply to the same students every time)
- Spend extra time with needy guests. (Struggling students)
- Don’t talk all at once, spread the conversation throughout the party. (Post on various days, keeping the volume consistent)
- Start up a new conversation when one is stale! (Add a relevant link to a current event to discuss)
- Hosts are visible, immediately attend to guests’ needs, personable, and proactively plan for a great evening!
In addition to her post, there were a few responses to her blog post that I noted. Here are a few more ideas that can be used if you are facilitating discussions in your course:
- Ask for citation/reference to support the student’s view (from the week’s class readings usually. everything they find extra is their choice if they want to dig deeper).
- Provide examples of a “good” and “bad” discussion post and a reply to a post (if you don’t write up examples but really like a student’s post you can ask them for permission to show it to the other student/put it in your syllabus as a “good post sample”).
- Focus on the quality, not quantity of student posts. If a student posts too many threads or replies but have not said much or cited, they probably did not fully engage. – However, sometimes by posting many replies they just want to acknowledge that they have read their classmates’ posts and agreed or liked it, so that is nice. My point here – it is the best to require one substantial post where they would express their opinion and cite a relevant resources, and require at least one or two replies. Anything over that can be overwhelming, but if they only say “I agree” or “Good point” let them be, just don’t necessarily consider it if you are grading their discussion posts.
An article by Amy Peterson, a senior vice president of course design, development and academic research at Pearson, posted on the Faculty Focus website lists 5 ways to make your Online Classroom more interactive.
Since I like lists I thought I’d share her thoughts briefly here. To read the full article, follow this link.
The convenience and flexibility of the online learning environment allows learners to develop new skills and further their education, regardless of where they live. However, online learning can sometimes feel isolating for students and faculty. The question is: how do you build a sense of community in your online courses?
1. Integrate real-time interaction
Integrating opportunities for real-time interaction into your online course can help change that and develop a sense of community in a course. You can facilitate these interactions by setting up opportunities for class members to meet online synchronously both formally and informally. Using web conferencing applications, you can create a variety of synchronous interaction opportunities, such as office hours, small group discussions, whole class discussions, and study groups.
2. Get creative with discussion boards
In an online environment, you can structure your discussions so that everyone contributes, plus they’ll have more time to consider what they want to say before responding. Class size helps determine how you organize discussions. In a larger class of, say, 100 students, you can set up smaller discussion groups of 20 or so people so that students can get to know their fellow classmates. One technique that fosters richer dialogue is creating discussion prompts that are open ended, such as requiring students to provide examples or asking them to interpret a concept from a variety of perspectives.
3. Maximize engagement with non-task interaction
Non-task interactions are those exchanges that are not part of the direct learning, but help create a supportive learning community. You can facilitate these types of interactions by leveraging the social networking capabilities that are available in many learning management systems, such as chat and webconferencing. St. Cloud State and D2L Brightspace have Wiggio for example.
4. Use multiple communication tools
You’re not alone in wanting to increase and enhance student engagement and interaction. Students can meet each other in real time on Skype and Google Hangouts. Preprogrammed communication, such as introductory videos, content presentation, and email, are still important components of online learning, but student interaction can take the learning further, faster.
5. Have a plan around the tool
A tech tool is only as good as you the way you use it from a pedagogical perspective. When you move a face-to-face course online, or create an online course from scratch, consider how interaction will support the learning goals in your course. By enhancing the opportunities for interaction in your online classrooms, you can take an already powerful learning opportunity to the next level for all of your students.
Registration is now open for the 2017 STAR Symposium sponsored by the Minnesota Online Quality Initiative. This is a virtual one-day conference that will consist of presentations focused on topics related to Faculty Development Support, Course Design and Delivery, Assessment and Feedback, Student Engagement, Technology Integration, Measuring the Impact of Best Practices and other Teaching Innovations for face-to-face, blended, and online courses.
Date: February 10, 2017 8:30 AM – 4 PM
Cost: $50 per attendee.
For more information and to register: https://minnesota.qualitymatters.org/symposium/