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Facilitating Asynchronous Discussion and Blended Learning. Curt Bonk, Professor, Indiana University [email protected] http://php.indiana.edu/~cjbonk http://CourseShare.com. Blended Ideas. Take to lab for online group collaboration. Take to computer lab for Web search.

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facilitating asynchronous discussion and blended learning

Facilitating Asynchronous Discussion and Blended Learning

Curt Bonk,

Professor, Indiana University

[email protected]



blended ideas
Blended Ideas
  • Take to lab for online group collaboration.
  • Take to computer lab for Web search.
  • Take to an electronic conference.
  • Put syllabus on the Web.
  • Create a class computer conference.
  • Require students sign up for a listserv.
  • Use e-mail minute papers & e-mail admin.
  • Have students do technology demos.
blended learning sample synchronous and asynchronous activities
Blended Learning. Sample Synchronous and Asynchronous Activities

(David Brown, Syllabus, January 2002, p. 23; October 2001, p. 18)

i ten asynchronous activities
I. Ten Asynchronous Activities
  • Social Ice Breakers: 8 nouns, expectations, storytelling cartoon time, chat room buds, etc.
  • Learner-Content Interactions: challenges, animations, self-testing, double jeopardy quizzing
  • Scenario-Based Simulations
  • Starter-Wrapper Discussion
  • Anonymous Suggestion Box and Student Formative Surveys
  • Role Play: Assume the Persona of a Scholar
  • Case-Based Laboratories & Online Experiments
  • Authentic Data Analysis
  • Just-in-Time Teaching; Just-in-Time Syllabus
  • Perspective Taking: Foreign Languages, Field Experiences, etc.
1 social ice breakers
1. Social Ice Breakers

a. Introductions: require not only that students introduce themselves, but also that they find and respond to two classmates who have something in common (Serves dual purpose of setting tone and having students learn to use the tool)

b. Favorite Web Site: Have students post the URL of a favorite Web site or URL with personal information and explain why they choose that one.

1 social ice breakers6
1. Social Ice Breakers

c. Eight Nouns Activity:

1. Introduce self using 8 nouns

2. Explain why choose each noun

3. Comment on 1-2 peer postings

d. Coffee House Expectations

1. Have everyone post 2-3 course expectations

2. Instructor summarizes and comments on how they might be met

(or make public commitments of how they will fit into busy schedules!)

2b learner content interactions double jeopardy quizzing
2b. Learner-Content Interactions: Double-Jeopardy Quizzing

Gordon McCray, Wake Forest University, Intro to Management of Info Systems

  • Students take objective quiz (no time limit and not graded)
  • Submit answer for evaluation
  • Instead of right or wrong response, the quiz returns a compelling probing question, insight, or conflicting perspective (i.e., a counterpoint) to force students to reconsider original responses
  • Students must commit to a response but can use reference materials
  • Correct answer and explanation are presented
4 discussion starter wrapper hara bonk angeli 2000
4. Discussion: Starter-Wrapper (Hara, Bonk, & Angeli, 2000)
  • Starter reads ahead and starts discussion and others participate and wrapper summarizes what was discussed.
  • Start-wrapper with roles--same as #1 but include roles for debate (optimist, pessimist, devil\'s advocate).

Alternative: Facilitator-Starter-Wrapper (Alexander, 2001)

Instead of starting discussion, student acts as moderator or questioner to push student thinking and give feedback

5 formative feedback anonymous suggestion box
5. Formative FeedbackAnonymous Suggestion Box

George Watson, Univ of Delaware, Electricity and Electronics for Engineers:

  • Students send anonymous course feedback (Web forms or email)
  • Submission box is password protected
  • Instructor decides how to respond
  • Then provide response and most or all of suggestion in online forum
  • It defuses difficult issues, airs instructor views, and justified actions publicly.
  • Caution: If you are disturbed by criticism, perhaps do not use.
5 formative feedback survey student opinions e g infopoll surveysolutions zoomerang surveyshare com
5. Formative Feedback: Survey Student Opinions (e.g., InfoPoll, SurveySolutions, Zoomerang, SurveyShare.com)
6 role play
6. Role Play

A. Assume Persona of Scholar

  • Enroll famous people in your course
  • Students assume voice of that person for one or more sessions
  • Enter debate topic or Respond to debate topic
  • Respond to rdg reflections of others or react to own
7a online co laborative psych experiments
7a. Online Co-Laborative Psych Experiments

PsychExperiments (University of Mississippi)

Contains 30 free psych experiments

  • Location independent
  • Convenient to instructors
  • Run experiments over large number of subjects
  • Can build on it over time
  • Cross-institutional

Ken McGraw, Syllabus,

November, 2001

7b case based learning student cases
7b. Case-Based Learning: Student Cases
  • Model how to write a case
  • Practice answering cases.
  • Generate 2-3 cases during semester based on field experiences.
  • Link to the text material—relate to how how text author or instructor might solve.
  • Respond to 6-8 peer cases.
  • Summarize the discussion in their case.
  • Summarize discussion in a peer case.

(Note: method akin to storytelling)

9 just in time teaching
9. Just-In-Time-Teaching

Gregor Novak, IUPUI Physics Professor (teaches teamwork, collaboration, and effective communication):

  • Lectures are built around student answers to short quizzes that have an electronic due date just hours before class.
  • Instructor reads and summarizes responses before class and weaves them into discussion and changes the lecture as appropriate.
10 perspective taking
10. Perspective Taking
  • Have students receive e-newsletters from a foreign magazine as well as respond to related questions.
  • Students assume roles of those in literature from that culture and participate in real-time chats using assumed identity.
  • Perspective sharing discussions: Have learners relate the course material to a real-life experience.
ii types of blended synchronous activities
II. Types of Blended Synchronous Activities
  • Webinar, Webcast
  • Social Ice-Breakers: Know You Rooms
  • Synchronous Testing and Assessment
  • Sync Guests or Expert Forums
  • Threaded Discussion Plus Expert Chat
  • Moderated Online Team Meeting
  • Secret Coaches and Protégées
  • Collaborative Online Writing
  • Online Mentoring
  • Graphic Organizers in Whiteboard (e.g., Venn)
2 social ice breakers
2. Social Ice Breakers
  • KNOWU Rooms:
    • Create discussion forums or chat room topics for people with diff experiences (e.g., soccer parent, runner, pet lovers, like music, outdoor person). Find those with similar interests.
    • Complete eval form where list people in class and interests. Most names wins.
3. Synchronous Testing & Assessment(Giving Exams in the Chat Room!, Janet Marta, NW Missouri State Univ, Syllabus, January 2002)
  • Post times when will be available for 30 minute slots, first come, first serve.
  • Give 10-12 big theoretical questions to study for.
  • Tell can skip one.
  • Assessment will be a dialogue.
  • Get them there 1-2 minutes early.
  • Have hit enter every 2-3 sentences.
  • Ask q’s, redirect, push for clarity, etc.
  • Covers about 3 questions in 30 minutes.

5. Threaded Discussion plus Expert Chat (e.g., Starter-Wrapper + Sync Guest Chat)

7 secret coaches and prot g es
7. Secret Coaches and Protégées
  • Input learner names into a Web site.
  • When learners arrive, it randomly assigns them a secret protégé for a meeting.
  • Tell them to monitor the work of their protégé but to avoid being obvious by giving feedback to several different people.
  • Give examples of comments.
  • At end of mtg, have protégées guess coaches.
  • Discuss how behavior could be used in other meetings.

8. Collaborative Online Writing:

Peer-to-Peer Document Collaboration

Little or no feedback given

Always authoritative

Kept narrow focus of what was relevant

Created tangential discussions, fact questions

Only used “ultimate” deadlines

Provided regular qual/quant feedback

Participated as peer

Allowed perspective sharing

Tied discussion to grades, other tasks.

Used incremental deadlines

Poor Instructors Good Instructors

  • Deadlines motivated participation
    • Message counts increased in the days immediately preceding a deadline
  • Deadlines inhibited dialogue
    • Students posted messages but did not discuss
    • Too much lag time between initial messages and responses
  • Instructor modeling increased the likelihood of student messages meeting quality and content expectations
  • Modeling was more effective than guidelines
guidelines and feedback
Guidelines and Feedback
  • Qualitative discussion guidelines and feedback helped students know what their participation should look like
  • Quantitative discussion guidelines and feedback comforted students and was readily understood by them
  • Feedback of both varieties was needed at regular intervals, although the qualitative feedback need not be individualized
facilitation dennen 2001
Facilitation (Dennen, 2001)
  • High instructor presence
    • 1:1 student-instructor message ratio created low peer interaction
    • Participant-like IP facilitated peer interaction
  • Instructor modeling increased student messages meeting quality and content expectations
  • Modeling was more effective than guidelines
  • Deadlines motivated participation
  • Deadlines inhibited dialogue
facilitation dennen 200141
Facilitation (Dennen, 2001)
  • Participation was higher when students had a clear goal & extrinsic motivation to participate
  • Relevance has a positive effect on participation
  • Greater dialogue when shared perspectives
  • Fact-based q’ing strategies did not work well
  • Consistent, regular fdbk motivates students
  • Quantitative and qualitative guidelines
facilitating electronic discussion
Facilitating Electronic Discussion
  • Have Students Initiate, Sign up for Roles
  • Provide Guidelines, Due Dates, and Structure
  • Weave and Summarize Weekly
  • Be patient, prompt, and clear
  • Foster Role Play, Debate, and Interaction
  • Constantly Monitor, Converse not Dictate
  • Extend Beyond Class with Peers/Practitioners
more on how to facilitate
More on How to Facilitate...
  • Find common ref pt--mission, purpose, need
  • Guide to negotiate/co-construct meaning
  • Establish some common practices or rituals
  • Hold regularly scheduled events--chats, tours
  • Create opportunities to contribute/develop
  • Apply course to lived experiences
  • Keep simple, give choice, build respect & tension
common instructor complaints
Common Instructor Complaints
  • Students don’t participate
  • Students all participate at the last minute
  • Students post messages but don’t converse
  • Facilitation takes too much time
  • If they must be absent, the discussion dies off
  • Students are confused
reasons why
Reasons why...

Students don’t participate

  • Because it isn’t required
  • Because they don’t know what is expected

Students all participate at last minute

  • Because that is what was required
  • Because they don’t want to be the first

Instructor posts at the last minute

how would you respond
How would you respond?
  • Who invented ______?
  • Who was the most influential political figure of the 1990’s?
  • What were the 3 main points of the reading?
common problems with online discussion prompts
Common problems with online discussion prompts

Too vague

  • Learners have no idea how to respond

Too fact-based

  • Only one or two persons need to respond

Lack directions for interactions

  • Learners don’t know what acceptable participation looks like
elements of a good prompt
Elements of a good prompt
  • Specifies the desired response type
  • Allows for multiple correct answers (perspective sharing, unique application of knowledge)
  • Provides guidance for peer interaction
  • Fosters reflection, thinking, or collaboration
a 5 stage approach async
A 5-Stage Approach: Async
  • Initial topic or idea generation
  • Initial response
  • Respond to peers (can continue for as long as desired)
  • Wrap up questions
  • Reflect
a sample 5 part prompt
A sample 5-part prompt

Step 1: Idea Generation

  • Find a recent news story online or announcement that provides an example of one of the issues or concepts in our recent readings. Post the URL and a brief summary of the article. Do not go into detail of what this is an example of or how it relates to the reading.
a sample 5 part prompt 2
A sample 5-part prompt (2)

Step 2: Initial Response

  • Select and read one of your classmate\'s contributions, and post a message under their thread that discusses what major issues this article relates to and support your assertions with references to our course readings. If there are secondary issues, mention those as well. Please respond to a message that has not yet received a response so that we can make sure everyone gets at least one response. You may, of course, respond to multiple threads if you wish.
3 sentence rule
3-sentence rule
  • Avoid overwhelming “I agree” type messages
  • Require that all students post messages of 3 sentences or longer
  • The result:
    • I agree with you.
    • That’s a good idea
    • Ummm…. I have to actually say something now!
make discussion an activity
Make Discussion an Activity
  • Debate a topic
  • Search for and share resources
    • Learn about a topic
    • Build a study guide
  • Expand on a topic
    • Find real-world cases
online mentoring and assistance online
Online Mentoring and Assistance Online

Twelve forms of electronic learning mentoring and assistance(Bonk & Kim, 1998; Tharp, 1993; Bonk et al., 2001)


1. Social (and cognitive) Acknowledgement: "Hello...," "I agree with everything said so far...," "Wow, what a case," "This case certainly has provoked a lot of discussion...," "Glad you could join us..."


2. Questioning: "What is the name of this concept...?," "Another reason for this might be...?," "An example of this is...," "In contrast to this might be...,""What else might be important here...?," "Who can tell me....?," "How might the teacher..?." "What is the real problem here...?," "How is this related to...?,“, "Can you justify this?"


3. Direct Instruction: "I think in class we mentioned that...," Chapter ‘X’ talks about...," "Remember back to the first week of the semester when we went over ‘X’ which indicated that..."


4. Modeling/Examples: "I think I solved this sort of problem once when I...," "Remember that video we saw on ‘X’ wherein ‘Y’ decided to...," "Doesn\'t ‘X’ give insight into this problem in case ‘Z’ when he/she said..."


5. Feedback/Praise: "Wow, I\'m impressed...," "That shows real insight into...," "Are you sure you have considered...," "Thanks for responding to ‘X’...," "I have yet to see you or anyone mention..."


6. Cognitive Task Structuring: "You know, the task asks you to do...," "Ok, as was required, you should now summarize the peer responses that you have received...," "How might the textbook authors have solved this case."


7. Cognitive Elaborations/Explanations: "Provide more information here that explains your rationale," "Please clarify what you mean by...," "I\'m just not sure what you mean by...," "Please evaluate this solution a little more carefully."


8. Push to Explore: "You might want to write to Dr. ‘XYZ’ for...," "You might want to do an ERIC search on this topic...," "Perhaps there is a URL on the Web that addresses this topic..."


9. Fostering Reflection/Self Awareness:"Restate again what the teacher did here," "How have you seen this before?," "When you took over this class, what was the first thing you did?," "Describe how your teaching philosophy will vary from this...," "How might an expert teacher handle this situation?"


10. Encouraging Articulation/Dialogue Prompting:"What was the problem solving process the teacher faced here?," "Does anyone have a counterpoint or alternative to this situation?," "Can someone give me three good reasons why...," "It still seems like something is missing here, I just can\'t put my finger on it."


11. General Advice/Scaffolding/Suggestions: "If I were in her shoes, I would...," "Perhaps I would think twice about putting these people into...," "I know that I would first...," "How totally ridiculous this all is; certainly the “person” should be able to provide some..."


12. Management (via private e-mail or discussion):"Don\'t just criticize....please be sincere when you respond to your peers," "If you had put your case in on time, you would have gotten more feedback." "If you do this again, we will have to take away your privileges."

four key hats of instructors
Four Key Hats of Instructors:
  • Technical—do students have basics? Does their equipment work? Passwords work?
  • Managerial—Do students understand the assignments and course structure?
  • Pedagogical—How are students interacting, summarizing, debating, thinking?
  • Social—What is the general tone? Is there a human side to this course? Joking allowed?
  • Other: firefighter, convener, weaver, tutor, conductor, host, mediator, filter, editor, facilitator, negotiator, e-police, concierge, marketer, assistant, etc.
e moderator
  • Refers to online teaching and facilitation role. Moderating used to mean to preside over a meeting or a discussion, but in the electronic world, it means more than that. It is all roles combined—to hold meetings, to encourage, to provide information, to question, to summarize, etc. (Collins & Berge, 1997; Gilly Salmon, 2000); see http://www.emoderators.com/moderators.shtml.
personal learning trainer
Personal Learning Trainer
  • Learners need a personal trainer to lead them through materials and networks, identify relevant materials and advisors and ways to move forward (Mason, 1998; Salmon, 2000).
e police
  • While one hopes you will not call yourself this nor find the need to make laws and enforce them, you will need some Code of Practice or set procedures, and protocols for e-moderators (Gilly Salmon, 2000).
other hats73
Other Hats
  • Weaver—linking comments/threads
  • Tutor—individualized attention
  • Participant—joint learner
  • Provocateur—stir the pot (& calm flames)
  • Observer—watch ideas and events unfold
  • Mentor—personally apprentice students
  • Community Organizer—keep system going
still more hats

Devil’s advocate













Still More Hats
A learning community is a group of individuals interested in a common topic or area, who engage in knowledge related transactions as well as transformations within it. They take advantage of the opportunity to exchange ideas and learn collectively.

(Bonk & Wisher, 2000;

Fulton & Riel, 1999)

factors in creating any community
Factors in Creating any Community

(1) membership/identity

(2) influence

(3) fulfill of indiv needs/rewards

(4) shared events & emotional connections

(McMillan & Chavis, 1986).

History, stories, expression, identity, participation, respect, autonomy, celebration, team building, shape group, Schwier, 1999)

help categorize the degree of online community chao 1999
Help Categorize the Degree of Online Community(Chao, 1999)

(1) self-disclosures, time, energy

(2) refer to norms, rules, others

(3) give and receive info, express need, thank, criticize, suggest

(4) special stories, symbols, events, identify spiritual bonds

how facilitate online community
How Facilitate Online Community?
  • Safety: Establish safe environment
  • Tone: Flexible, inviting, positive, respect
  • Personal: Self-disclosures, open, stories telling
  • Sharing: Share frustrations, celebrations, etc
  • Collaboration: Camaraderie/empathy
  • Common language: conversational chat space
  • Task completion: set milestones & grp goals
  • Other: Meaningful, choice, simple, purpose...
participant categories
Participant Categories
  • Web Resource Finder
  • Starter-Wrapper
  • Researcher
  • Online Journal Editor
  • Expert Resource Gatherer
  • Technology Reviewer
  • Mentor/Expert
  • Instructor
  • Seeker/Questioner
role 1 starter mediator reporter commentator
Role 1: Starter/MediatorReporter/Commentator
  • Summarizes the key terms, ideas, and issues in the chapters, supplemental instructor notes, journal articles, and other assigned readings and asks thought provoking questions typically before one’s peers read or discuss the concepts and ideas. In effect, the starter is a reporter or commentator or teacher of what to expect in the upcoming readings or activities. Once the “start” is posted, this student acts as a mediator or facilitator of discussion for the week.
role 2 wrapper summarizer synthesizer connector reviewer
Role 2: Wrapper/SummarizerSynthesizer/Connector/Reviewer
  • Connects ideas, synthesizes discussion, interrelates comments, and links both explicit and implicit ideas posed in online discussion or other activities. The learner looks for themes in online coursework while weaving information together. The wrapping or summarizing is done at least at the end of the week or unit, but preferably two or more times depending on the length of activity.
role 3 conqueror or debater arguer bloodletter
Role 3: Conqueror or Debater/Arguer/Bloodletter
  • Takes ideas into action, debates with others, persists in arguments and never surrenders or compromises nomatter what the casualties are when addressing any problem or issue.
role 4 devil s advocate or critic censor confederate
Role 4: Devil\'s Advocate or Critic/Censor/Confederate
  • Takes opposite points of view for the sake of an argument and is an antagonist when addressing any problem posed. This might be a weekly role that is secretly assigned.
role 5 idea squelcher biased preconceiver
Role 5: Idea Squelcher/Biased/Preconceiver
  • Squelches good and bad ideas of others and submits your own prejudiced or biased ideas during online discussions and other situations. Forces others to think. Is that person you really hate to work with.
role 6 optimist open minded idealist
Role 6: Optimist/Open-minded/Idealist
  • In this role, the student notes what appears to be feasible, profitable, ideal, and "sunny" ideas when addressing this problem. Always sees the bright or positive side of the situation.
role 7 emotional sensitive intuitive
Role 7: Emotional/Sensitive/Intuitive
  • Comments with the fire and warmth of emotions, feelings, hunches, and intuitions when interacting with others, posting comments, or addressing problems.
role 8 idea generator creative energy inventor
Role 8: Idea Generator Creative Energy/Inventor
  • Brings endless energy to online conversations and generates lots of fresh ideas and new perspectives to the conference when addressing issues and problems.
role 9 questioner ponderer protester
Role 9: Questioner/Ponderer/Protester
  • Role is to question, ponder, and protest the ideas of others and the problem presented itself. Might assume a radical or ultra-liberal tone.
role 10 coach facilitator inspirer trainer
Role 10: Coach Facilitator/Inspirer/Trainer
  • Offers hints, clues, supports, and highly motivational speeches to get everyone fired-up or at least one lost individual back on track when addressing a problem or situation.
role 11 controller executive director ceo leader
Role 11: Controller/Executive Director/CEO/Leader
  • In this role, the student oversees the process, reports overall findings and opinions, and attempts to control the flow of information, findings, suggestions, and general problem solving.
role 12 slacker slough slug surfer dude
Role 12: Slacker/Slough/Slug/Surfer Dude
  • In this role, the student does little or nothing to help him/herself or his/her peers learn. Here, one can only sit back quietly and listen, make others do all the work for you, and generally have a laid back attitude (i.e., go to the beach) when addressing this problem.
“We are evolving out of the era of the Lone Rangers…faculty members can choose to be involved in the design, development, content expertise, delivery, or distribution of course…” (Richard T. Hezel)

Sarah Carr, (Dec 15, 2000, A47), A Day in the Life of a New Type of Professor, The Chronicle of Higher Education

track 1 technical specialist
Track 1: Technical Specialist
  • Help critique technical aspects of media and materials built into online courses. Here one would be part of a course development team or instructional design unit. Freelance learning object evaluator. Here one would likely operate alone or as part of a consulting company.
track 2 personal guide
Track 2: Personal Guide
  • Provide program or course guidance to students on demand or preplanned. Becomes more of a generalist across university offerings. For example, one might help students see how different learning objects or modules fit together into a degree.
track 3 online facilitator
Track 3: Online Facilitator
  • Offers timely and informed support to students struggling to complete an online course or inserting questions and nudging development of students who are successfully completing different modules. This is the most similar to college teaching positions today.
track 4 course developer
Track 4: Course Developer
  • Help develop specific courses or topic areas for one or more universities. In many institutions, this will move beyond a course royalty system to a paid position.
track 5 course or program manager
Track 5: Course or Program Manager
  • Supervisor or manager of an entire new program or courses, most often leading to certificates or master’s degrees. Similar in stature to a development head or chairperson.
track 6 work for hire online lecturer
Track 6: Work for Hire Online Lecturer
  • Is a freelance instructor for one course or a range of course. May work on just one campus or on a range of campuses around the world. While this will be highly popular and rejuvenate careers, institutional policies are yet to be sorted out.
track 7 high school teacher
Track 7: High School Teacher
  • As universities begin to offer secondary degrees, some college faculty with online teaching experience and teaching degrees will find positions in those classes. Some may view such positions as being demoted to the minor leagues.
track 8 unemployed
Track 8: Unemployed
  • If one does not find a niche in one or more of the above tracks or roles, he or she will likely be unemployed or highly unsuccessful.
some final advice
Some Final Advice…

Or Maybe Some Questions???