Death by Discussion Boards: Strategies for Thinking Outside the Box

Blogging the Online Learning Consortium International Conference 2014

Presenters: Ken Hartman (Eduventures, USA) and Kristen Betts (Drexel University, USA)

Presentation is online here.

Note: This presentation was fast paced and packed with ideas!

Why do we need more engagement?

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How can we create more of a classroom atmosphere with different types of engagement than just the discussion boards.

Starting with the federal regulations and definitions:

  • definition that requires “regular and substantive interaction” with the teacher
  • credit hour: one hour direct faculty instruction; two hours of out of class work each week for 15 weeks
  • accreditors are reviewing the reliability and accuracy of the credit hour policy
  • students need to be engaged in your course shell in a way that accreditors can review it
    • syllabi are reviewed to check if the interactive features are required; interaction has to be required for your course not to be categorized as a correspondence course
    • in an audit, they are looking to see student logins to the classroom space; don’t just send it out on the email; get students to login to read the announcements and “show up” in class

So, how can you actually have online interaction and engagement?

Move beyond: read/watch, post, reply to a classmate. Let’s get rid of that box and think about something else. Both on campus and online courses should have

  • On-Campus Interaction: Class Discussion and Activities
  • Online Interaction: Class Discussion and Activities

Pedagogy Strategies

  • Voice comments, voice discussion (use that term instead of audio because it sounds more personal)
  • Peer/group activities
  • Individual activities
  • Rename discussions to “Discussion and activities”
  • Activities: You can give a percentage or complete or grade. You don’t have to grade everything. In an f2f class you have in class activities that aren’t graded. They just need to complete.
  • Everything has to be linked to your course objectives and learning outcomes.
  • Look for application and mastery. Align the content with career placement – what do they need to do? What are the skills that employers are looking for? Build that into your online course and face to face too!
  • Scaffold in learning the new technologies for things that they need to use the tool later – like tools they have to use for student presentations.
  • Cross reference her neuropedagogy presentation: Neuro-Instructional Design & Neuropedagogy: Reconceptualizing Online & Blended Education
  • Don’t scare online students with a voice, video, padlet; do that text based. But then have another assignment 5-10 question assignment; make sure they know the syllabus.
  • Idea: have students watch a 29 minute video on APA; and then have a quiz on it. We need this idea in our Masters programs.
  • Use an adaptive release on the syllabus quiz – picky stuff that they keep emailing about – 10 questions along – get the students to do it – they can’t see the rest of the course until they do that
  • Have one on one meetings with the student – scheduled with the teacher between weeks 2 & 5; it’s a requirement in the course; it changes everything when they experience this
  • Require the students to record two of their four required group sessions to ensure that they are showing up to their group work.
  • Reflection & Journal activiites; – mid & final course reflections – on the objectives; how have they applied or how do they see they will apply their learning?
  • Student generated content – have them present, do role plays, do a group project, record their presentation (could be recorded); their presentations are in the discussion board, which do you believe are the top two and why? – play the role of the evaluator
  • Virtual field trips – meet the author, virtual tours of organizations such as national institutes of health, ustream onsite visits locally

Technology Tools Besides the Discussion Board

  • Padlet: You can put MP4s, PDFs, a collection of comments; gives feedback to everyone in the class; one use is to put all the resources to have students access – like video tutorials on APA etc; another use is keeping ideas and resources for the next time the course is taught; padlet for peer review – each student makes their padlet and then the other students comment on it.
    • ePoster – have students make their poster presentation on padlet, including a voice recording
  • Tellagami: to give a really quick audio/video feedback to the student
  • Vocaroo: for students or teachers to present / give feedback
  • VoiceThread: – voice, video, text
  • Tip: When you use tools outside of the LMS, make sure you include it in the syllabus, announcements, etc – and that allows whoever reviews your course to know about the engagement and faculty presence included in your course.
  • Zoom: They are working on an LTI integration
  • Simulations  – like EthicsGame or Hot Topic Simulations or Ethical Lens Inventory; ShadowHealth – as a few examples
  • Apps and activities: 3D Brain App – for teaching neurocognition for nursing
  • Online flashcards i.e. – have the students create flashcards and post them in the discussion board – and then pick the best sets of flashcards and why they are the best; groups collaboratively develop flashcards
  • ustream  – bring in guest speakers to your online students; stream to the campus & online students; campus/course speakers; stream it! watch the required event; then have 5-10 questions; you can’t require them to show up to a live event; but require them to watch; they have to get 100% mastery; ask 2 questions from the content; one that the speaker said, and one at the end; you have to pay attention to be able to do it – you have to get 100% to get the credit for it

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