Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Discussion Best Practices

Some of our peers in Colleague to Colleague have been involved in an awesome e-mail conversation concerning best practices for using Discussion Boards in online learning. I thought I would share some of the key insights:
  • Relevant context and applicability is the best way to spur student engagement.
  • Instructor presence is helpful (sometimes necessary), but a "light touch" rather than heavy interaction actually helps encourage dialogue.
  • Clearly defined expectations (typically either in the discussion prompt or the syllabus) about both what's required of students and what to expect from the instructor is helpful.
  • Discussions don't necessarily have to be graded, but a clear understanding of their value and contribution to the course (and to the grade if relevant) is essential.  Too meticulous of grading or rubric can discourage anything more than minimal participation.
  • Rubrics and stated guidelines for amount and quantity of participation can be helpful, but there's a risk of superficiality (posting for the grade, rather than the natural learning value) which can be detrimental to good discussion.
  • Having designated student moderators can give them ownership and encourage quality discussion.
  • For larger classes, groups and moderation is essential.
What are your thoughts?

No comments: