Better Discussions

Mon, 16 Jun, 2014

Recently, I attended the ASCUE (Association for Small Computing Users in Education) conference in which Christine Davis Ed.D. presented her research on methods for increasing engagement using discussion boards.  Several of the methods presented by Dr. Davis are as follows: 

  • Structured Online Discussion: each student is assigned a topic.  Lead student poses key questions, background information, internet links.  Classmates conduct research, respond, and discuss using cited evidence and applied theory.  Lead student moderates, summarizes, and synthesizes the forum at the end of the week/session.  The dynamics of the group are changed each week.  This type of forum is better suited for upper level classes (300 and above).
  • Case Analysis: learning teams are assigned for development and analysis.  After conducting research, the team collaborates and develops a presentation of their findings.  A second team summarizes and conducts an analysis of the research (Davis, 2010)
  • Webquest: learning teams construct a project or respond to given questions about a given topic.  This provides opportunities for learning.  Need 4 weeks plus for this.
  • Discussion Forum through Roles: students are required to make a minimum of ten postings in response to a given topic assuming a different perspective or role for each posting:
    1 initiating 
    5 supporting
    2 challenging
    1 monitoring
    1 summarizing
  • Group Debate - Point of View: students are placed in groups of three.  Students access a paper from a folder and engage in a debate providing supporting evidence for their point of view.  Opportunistic for real world application.
  • Mini Lecture: students design narrated PPT and/or podcast with given criteria including simulations, video clips, virtual field trips, games, real world application, etc. 
  • Summary Forum: students evaluate and reflect on key concepts learned.  Projects possible applications of skill learned.  Reflect on thinking and learning process used.  Reflect of value of learning process.  
  • Other activities: Collaborative writing groups (Restine), discussion of articles, books, assigned readings, student research and location of appropriate internet links, each student develops a higher-level thinking questions, each student leads a discussion, collaborative Glogster pages (electronic poster).  

Perhaps, you can use some of these ideas to enhance the engagement in your next course.  

Katherine Spradley
Director of Campbell University Online