Join Kevin Kelly for an in-depth discussion in this video Facilitating discussion, part of Teaching with Technology.
- I've already described ways in which you can use technology to support discussion in class. In the movie on active learning exercises we turned think, pair, share into think, pair, click or think, pair, tweet. In the movie on small group activities we looked at Google Docs or Wikis for jigsaw groups. Now let's look at aspects of discussion that can take place outside the classroom. When do the discussions fit in the context of the class timeline? Why use virtual discussions at all? How can you overcome challenges with virtual discussions? Virtual discussions can be used as single serving activities.
As ongoing activity throughout the course. And everything in between. They can prepare students for a new topic before they`come to class. Just as easily, they allow you to continue a classroom discussion after a class period ends. If you do teach a face to face class then be sure to refer to each virtual discussion to make sure students see the value and participating and connections between the two. There are dozens of reasons to conduct virtual discussions. You can use them to aggregate ideas, apply course concepts to real-world scenarios, foster critical thinking, and facilitate collaborative reflection.
Let me show you a couple examples in action. If you want to collect students thoughts on a topic try a blog or VoiceThread exercise that's due before a particular class session. Each student should contribute an idea but replying to each other might be an optional. Start with a prompt slide and answer it yourself to model what you want students to do. Tell students their ideas must be original to get full credit. Which will encourage them to read all the other replies before responding. As an alternative to simply replying to your prompt individually you can have each student share a real-world application of a course concept and require them to comment on two or more other students' entries.
Use a blog or discussion forum to allow students to both reply to your prompt and each other. If you want a more interactive discussion consider a critical thinking activity such as a case study or debate. Ask students to support their original posts with outside sources. Then ask students to reply to two or more students. Make sure students support their replies as well. Let them know that answers like, "good job", smiley face are not acceptable. Model what a good peer reply should look like. We looked at the when and why of virtual discussions.
So let's close with how to overcome challenges associated with them. To maintain student participation over time use effective prompts. Try different activity types. Such as, the case studies, or debates mentioned earlier. It also helps to have multiple due dates. One due date for the student's original post. And another due date for their replies to other students. To elevate the quality of student work provide clear instructions and expectations and model what original posts and replies should look like. To manage your own instructor workload consider using student moderators who summarize the discussion each week.
For example, they can identify the three most common ideas and the top three questions that no one else could answer. You don't always have to reply to every student thread. But you do have to maintain a presence in each and every virtual discussion. Before reviewing the next movie answer the following questions for yourself. When will you incorporate virtual discussions in the context of your class? Why will you use virtual discussions to support learning? And, how will you implement strategies to address common virtual-discussion challenges?
Author Kevin Kelly explains how learning outcomes can be adapted to support technology in the classroom, and guides educators through selecting the appropriate technology for their activity, module, or class. Then he shows how to apply technology in three key areas: finding, creating, and sharing content with students; facilitating classroom activities; and assessing learning inside the classroom or online.
- Including technology in your learning outcomes
- Applying Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles
- Finding and creating content and instructional materials
- Enhancing lectures and presentations with technology
- Getting students involved
- Facilitating in-class activities
- Assessing learning
- Teaching effectively online