Sunday, August 19, 2007

Don't jump into discussions

As the facilitator/instructor, don't jump in immediately. As soon as you start contributing to the discussion, it has the potential of shutting down ideas -- students are less like to share alternative viewpoints.

In my online courses, for example, if students start a discussion on Monday, I will wait until Thursday to post (and I make sure students know this is my plan so they don't think I have disappeared and am not monitoring). This allows the students to post their original position without being swayed by me. I monitor the discussion, even though I don't post, during those first few days to get a sense of who is participating, where the discussion is going, what themes are emerging, what misconceptions need addressing, and so on. Then, on Thursday, I post to threads of discussion instead of to every individual student post. This shows students that I am attending to all of their comments, even though I do not have a 1-to-1 ratio of post/response interactions.

Related posts in this blog:
Discussion ground rules
Engaging quieter online students
Small groups reporting out to the large group?
Karma (or inspiration) points for discussion assessment
Beyond debates and conversational roles (Protocols Part 1)
Structures for asynchronous online discussions (Protocols Part 2)
Structures for synchronous online discussions (Protocols Part 3)
Structures for small groups reporting out to whole group (Protocols Part 4)

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