Discussion Board Best Practices. DeAnna Kirchen

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1 Discussion Board Best Practices DeAnna Kirchen

2 The foundation of our webinar Sharing of Ideas and Best Practices at the Online Teaching Conference (OTC 13) Adapted from: Ten Best Practices for Teaching Online Quick Guide for New Online faculty Judith V. Boettcher, Ph.D.

3 The focus of our webinar (only 6 BP s) How much guidance to provide students Categories of forums Communicating expectations to students Pros/cons of using groups, set up of groups Feedback to students: grading discussions with or without rubrics Administration of logistics, timing and deadlines for discussions

4 Question: Did you attend the OTC 13 Workshop presented by DeAnna regarding Discussion Board Best Practices? Yes No

5 Question: Are you currently teaching an online course using Discussion Boards? a. Yes, with extensive use b. Yes, barely c. No

6 Best Practice 1: Be Present at the Course Site Liberal use of announcements, discussion board postings, and forums The faculty member cares about who they are, cares about their questions and concerns Best online" faculty - according to students - are faculty who show their presence multiple times a week, and at best, daily. How much guidance to provide students

7 Results of faculty collaboration at OTC 13: How much guidance to provide students a. Be present several times a day/week on the Discussion Board b. Other suggestions: 1. Use BlackBoard messenger (BlackBoard IM) for virtual office hours https://www.blackboardim.com/user/faces/guest_page.xhtml 2. Setup Google voice account to text students and setup groups in Google Voice to mass-text each class section 3. Use RSS feed using Twitter through an optional subscription in LMS

8 Question: How many times per week should we tell our students to expect us to be active on the Discussion Board? a. 1-2 times a week b. 3-4 times a week c. Once a day, Mon - Fri d. Once a day, including weekends

9 Best Practice 2: Create a supportive online course community Design a course with a balanced set of dialogues: 1. Faculty to student mini-lectures in text or video or audio podcasts, weekly coaching and reminder announcements and explanations/interactions with the students 2. Student to student personal introduction posting- professional experiences, personal information such as family/friends/pets, and a photograph general open student forum for students to post and request help and assistance from each other Set up small groups where students can assume responsibility for supportive mentoring of fellow students and summarizing key points of a class assignment 3. Student to resource Categories of forums

10 Results of faculty collaboration at OTC 13: Categories of forums Discussion Forums- to create a supportive online course community: a. Help from the Professor b. Help from Students- it s their space i. Include Student bio, with an avatar option ii. Allow them a journal to be themselves, vent & speak their minds

11 Question: Which forums do you (or will you) have in your online course? a. Professor to Student b. Student to Student c. Both d. Other (please state what other forum you would have in the chat window)

12 Best Practice 3: Share a set of very clear expectations for your students and for yourself as to (1) how you will communicate and (2) how much time students should be working on the course each week Setting clear expectations - as to when you will be present and when you will not - at the beginning of a course with course policies is very helpful. Setting regular times when you can meet in a virtual classroom or be available by or texting, and thus be available - almost in real time similar to office hours, can be invaluable. For example, many faculty tell students that they can expect a response within 24 hours during the week. This basic expectation of response time can easily be modified - so long as the change is communicated to the students. Students are very accepting of a faculty member's time and life requirements if they know what is going on. Communicating expectations to students

13 Results of faculty collaboration at OTC 13: Communicating expectations to students Expectations for the Discussion Board need to be communicated clearly with students in the syllabus from day one: a. How often will I be in the Discussion Board? Set boundaries X hrs/wk d. Students need to know what is expected of them, too Example: You are required to post an answer to the Discussion Questions by Wed at 11pm for 15 points, and you are required to reply to answers of two other students by Sun at 11pm for 5 points each. Other considerations: Online/virtual office hours? (How- BlackBoard IM?) How often will I check ? X times/day or week; Response time? Students need to be reminded what the syllabus says with regards to what is expected of them Just like you announce to your on-campus students Hey, don t forget that you have quiz on Monday, do the same for online students

14 Question: What is the best way to communicate Discussion Board expectations to students? a. Syllabus b. Weekly Announcements c. Both d. Other (please answer in the chat window)

15 Best Practice 4: Use a variety of large group, small group, and individual work experiences Best with a variety of activities and experiences. More enjoyable and effective when students have the opportunity to brainstorm and work through concepts and assignments with either one or two or more fellow students. Some students work and learn best on their own. Need options and opportunities for students to work together and individually Working in teams is particularly effective when working on complex case studies or scenarios for the first time. Pros/cons of using groups, set up of groups

16 Results of faculty collaboration at OTC 13: Pros/cons of using groups, set up of groups Groups- use a variety of experiences: a. Setup study groups, discussion groups b. Pro: Groups build community and make the reading of messages not overwhelming to students c. Con: Depending on your LMS, grading may take more time d. Suggestion- put people in groups with similar interests, or let them self-select their own groups e. Suggestion- assign each group the task to document highlights for other groups f. Communicate WHY students have groups or group projects

17 Question: What is a good group size? a. 4-6 students b. 7-9 students c students d. I prefer to NOT use groups; let the whole class be a group

18 Best Practice 5: Use both synchronous and asynchronous activities We have course management systems and virtual live classrooms and audio tools that make it possible We can often engage learners in more collaborative and more reflective activities; helpful if recorded and archived for review and occasionally revision Sometimes use real-time interactive brainstorming and sharing discussion; other times the requirement to think, plan, write and summarize is what makes learning most effective for an individual For example, in many financial and statistical courses, real time problemsolving and question and answer review sessions can be very effective learning experiences Not a focus for Discussion Board Best Practices, BP provided just FYI

19 Best Practice 6: Early in the term - about week 3, ask for informal feedback on "How is the course going?" and "Do you have any suggestions?" Course evaluations when done after the fact-- nothing can be changed to increase satisfaction or facilitate learning Early feedback surveys-- provide feedback on what is working well in a course and what might help them have a better course experience (surveymonkey.com) When done early in the course-- corrections and modifications can be made; an easy opening for students who might have comments or suggestions or questions Feedback to students: grading discussions with or without rubrics

20 Results of faculty collaboration at OTC 13: Feedback: grading with or without rubrics Rubrics- YES we should use them! But you must give to students ahead of time. Here is a sample rubric: Criteria 100 words min for your initial post to Discussion Questions (DQs) Replies to 2 other students throughout the week with min 30 words Content of posting Quality of Writing (clarity, focus, grammar, spelling) Exceptional A Detailed, correct, complete and referenced Creative, original, clear, concise, detailed, proper grammar and spelling Effective B Correct and complete Original, clear, somewhat detailed, proper grammar and spelling Adequate C Correct but minor points left out Clear but with minor errors in writing. Inadequate D Incorrect or complete Not original, unclear, significant errors in writing After a little searching, I found this golden nugget several sample rubrics from around the country, as summarized by Middle Tennessee State University:

21 Question: What is a reasonable time frame for us to provide feedback (assuming weekly discussions)? a. Within 1-2 days after week concludes b. Within 1 week after week concludes c. Within 2 weeks after week concludes d. Anytime during the semester

22 Best Practice 7: Prepare Discussion Posts that Invite Questions, Discussions, Reflections and Responses Create open-ended questions to explore and apply the concepts they are learning Model good probing and follow-up questions. Why do you think that? What is your reasoning? Stagger due dates of the responses and consider mid-point summary and /or encouraging comments Provide guidelines and instruction on responding to other students (i.e., two-part response: what you liked or agreed with, and a follow-up question) Provide choices and options for students-- for personalized and customized learning for students and a way of validating and affirming knowledge and skills, link the learning more directly with their work experiences and needs. Don't post questions soliciting basic facts, or for which there is an obvious yes/no response. Once one student responds, there is not much more to say! other ecoaching hints available at Administration of logistics, timing and deadlines for discussions

23 Results of faculty collaboration at OTC 13: Administration of logistics, timing and deadlines Suggestions: a. most points awarded if answer a student question within 24 hours and scaled down for later posts b. Set two due dates per week for initial posts and replies, i.e., Wed 11pm and Sun 11pm (one due date per week leads to problems with last-minute posts)

24 Question: What is the best set of deadlines for Discussion posts (assuming students are to post one initial post and two replies)? a. Wednesday at 11pm and Friday at 11pm b. Wednesday at 11pm and Sunday at 11pm c. Tuesday at 11pm and Thursday at 11pm d. Tuesday at 11pm and Friday at 11pm e. Don t make it that rigid; make it all due at Sunday 11pm

25 Best Practice 8: Focus on content resources and applications and links to current events and examples that are easily accessed from learner's computers Use content that is mobile and can be accessed via smartphones, ipads, ipods, and mp3 players Students enjoy seeing how what they are learning links to current news events Enlist student assistance in identifying high quality content that is available online-- tutorials, simulations and supplementary stat material online Incorporate into assignments and discussions how the various statistical tools are used in professional situations and in decision-making; include examples of when and why they helped and perhaps when they went awry Not a focus for Discussion Board Best Practices, BP provided just FYI

26 Best Practice 9: Combine core concept learning with customized and personalized learning Students often focus on learning the vocabulary of a discipline, but this activity is often done in isolation from an understanding of the concepts that give the words meaning Build in options and choices in assignments and special projects Apply concepts within case studies, problems and analyses that combine concepts and principles within a context Make students' thinking visible-- create, talk, write, explain, analyze, judge, report and inquire How: Discussion forums, blogging, journals and small group work Not a focus for Discussion Board Best Practices, BP provided just FYI

27 Best Practice 10: Plan a good closing and wrap activity for the course Students are likely to be stressed and not take the time to do the lists and the planning that can help reduce stress and provide a calming atmosphere Remind students of what's next and when assignments and readings are due Plan the ending of the course experience with reflection and integration of useful knowledge; wrap up positive social and cognitive experiences Examples: student presentations, summaries and analyses; these provide insights into just what useful knowledge students are taking away from a course and a final opportunity for faculty to remind students of core concepts and fundamental principles Not a focus for Discussion Board Best Practices, BP provided just FYI

28 Questions? If you have any further questions, please type them in the chat window. If you missed anything, this webinar will be available for viewing again. Watch your for how to watch this webinar recording. After this webinar today, you may contact me at DeAnna Kirchen THANK YOU FOR ATTENTING!

29 Evaluation Survey Help us improve our seminars by filling out a short online evaluation survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/webinardbbp Type it in the chat window, preface it with???, and raise your hand.

30

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