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Alternative Strategies for Creating Effective Discussion Forums. Dr. Sam Cotton Depart. of Technology Ball State University Muncie, Indiana. Major points . How forums are similar to face-to-face interactions Required versus optional use strategies Alternatives for assessment

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alternative strategies for creating effective discussion forums

Alternative Strategies for Creating Effective Discussion Forums

Dr. Sam Cotton

Depart. of Technology

Ball State University

Muncie, Indiana

major points
Major points
  • How forums are similar to face-to-face interactions
  • Required versus optional use strategies
  • Alternatives for assessment
  • Various methods of interaction for both teacher and student
  • Matching objectives and content to strategy
how forums are similar dissimilar to face to face interactions
How forums are similar/dissimilar to face-to-face interactions
  • Same discussions, slower reaction times
  • All class members are involved
  • More time to consider input in forum than in live class or electronic chatroom
  • Typing skills/techniques can become an issue in forum
  • 24 hour a day access to discussion in forum, limited access to all in live class
  • Potential for dramatic increase in volume and quality of communication forum over live
    • Online discussions can require much more instructor time than in a time limited live class
required versus optional use strategies
Required versus optional use strategies
  • Optional participation
    • Enhancement of instruction
    • Alternative communication
    • Non-assessed – possible overall grade impact
    • Often limited participation
  • Required participation
    • Critical instructional tool
    • Group interaction strategy
    • Normally assessed
    • May require minimum standards of participation
alternatives for assessment
Alternatives for assessment
  • Primarily quality
    • Subjectively evaluated by instructor – explain method
  • Primarily volume
    • Word or post counts
    • Some use “curve” with this method – be careful with this
  • Combination of quality/quantity
  • Rubric
    • Chart of values of a number of factors
    • May exclude off content or superfluous items
    • Students can determine results prior to grading
disclaimers for previous rubric
Disclaimers for previous Rubric
  • Idle conversation
  • Simple agree/disagree or yes/no
  • Aggressive, insulting, or slanderous posts
  • Superfluous questions or repeated statements
  • Each post considered one item for scoring
    • Three questions in a single post score as one
expanded interactive submission tools
Expanded/interactive submission tools
  • Electronic submissions can be attached to forum posts
    • All students can benefit from submissions of others
    • Assessments normally still confidential
    • Students can critique or help with the work of others
    • Submit drafts in forum early, then submit final products after revision based on input from forum
      • No artificial memory limits as in email submissions
    • Multiple points of view and shared expertise
    • Faster feedback due to more participants at varied times
    • Permanent record of all activities available to all
various methods of interaction
Various methods of interaction
  • Teacher guided
    • Introducing “facts” – teacher in dominant role
      • Temptation for instructor to become overly dominant
    • Questioning/Socratic method
    • Teacher moderated
    • Teacher as challenger
  • Student guided
    • Role assignments - student assigned dominant role?
    • Teacher moderated
    • Student moderated
    • Low teacher input
matching objectives and content to strategy
Matching objectives and content to strategy
  • Team activities
    • May use group forums
    • Can be restricted to group or open to all
    • Business and industry now often use distance teams
  • Whole group discussions
    • Topical
    • Peer support and input as well as instructor input
  • Shared research
    • Report findings or record group interactions
  • Rotating leadership
    • Students can experience a variety of leadership roles
      • Chair, recorder, editor, inquisitor, etc.
summary
Summary
  • Determine purpose/objectives of activity
  • Required vs. Optional
  • Assessed directly, general, or not assessed

If assessed, explain method clearly

  • Vary methods
  • Avoid instructor dominance
  • Good tool for team activities
  • Encourages class peer support
questions discussion
Questions / Discussion
  • Dr. Sam Cotton
  • Department of Technology
  • Ball State University
  • Muncie, IN 47306-0255
  • 765-285-5640
  • Fax 765-285-2162
  • scotton@bsu.edu