Discussions and Forums

Discussions and Forums in the E-Learning Environment - Promoting Digital and Academic Citizenship

A classroom discussion is very different from an online discussion. An online discussion does not usually allow for visual, facial, and auditory clues. Since it is asynchronous it usually does not allow for as much teacher moderation. Many times students come from a Facebook culture and proper academic standards need to be emphasized, facilitated, and assessed. In this workshop educators will examine the power of discussions in the e-learning environment.

Learning Targets:

Step One: Classroom Discussions... Proper Netiquette (15 minutes)


Read the below article... if in a workshop be ready to participate in an interactive activity.

Promote Digital Citizenship… 10 Ideas For Rich Academic Student Discussion On the Internet

By Michael Gorman at  (http://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com)

You are perhaps aware that more and more classrooms are opening their doors to student discussion online. This happens in the virtual online classroom, but also in the blended classroom. As you might know, the blended classroom is one where students and teacher meet in a traditional school but use the internet to open the classroom walls to the community, region, country, and world. There are many services that provide student discussion forums that can facilitate student online interaction.  Some well known ones include, Edmodo, My Big Campus, Schoology, and Moodle.

When using online discussions with student be sure to keep your point of emphasis aimed at the content standards, 21st century skills, while moving up Blooms higher levels. Questions can be convergent for formative purposes, but also divergent to promote inquiry. Remember that the use of multimedia can promote academic standards while facilitating real and meaningful discussion. The teacher should model proper digital citizenship, constantly monitor student communication, and also provide responses  to various discussion threads. Equally important, the teacher should be aware and follow the District AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) and any website terms of use.

When first joining the world of student online discussions it can be often noted that the student conversation is not always highly academic and sometimes lacks rigorous thought. After all,  students have already learned to digitally communicate using social media and they transfer this past practice to the academic classroom. It is important that teachers facilitate proper online communication while promoting digital citizenship. Through proper guidance and digital education any classroom can discover the rich and meaningful opportunities that an online discussion can provide. Please feel free to use these ten ideas below and share with others.

1. Keep discussions to Bloom’s higher level topics including creating, evaluating, and synthesizing.

2. Use discussion as a formative assessment for checking both individual and group understanding. This does not mean it always has to be graded for accuracy… but more as a way for the teacher to plan. Many times in this method, the question maybe lower on Blooms Scale to show remembering and understanding.

3. A discussion can be graded, although it maybe best to grade for participation. In this manner the teacher may post and then ask students to reply to teacher post with a requirement of so many sentences. There could also be a requirement to comment to stated number of  other student posts. When grading be specific on requirements.

4. A class discussion is not a emulation of social media, it is an academic forum. This should be stated in the discussion question until it becomes acceptable classroom practice. and culture. Some things to keep in mind are the following.

Proper English grammar

  • Complete sentences
  • No use of text lingo (example; LOL”
  • Any copy and pasted resources or reference should be at least cited by name and link
  • Topic should be adhered to, no outside or side bar conversation
  • Proper spelling of words
  • Thoughts and ideas should be concise and to the point (do not ramble)
  • When stating positives and agreements be specific as to reasoning… keep away from Yearbook type comments
  • Exercise proper Digital Citizenship (see below)

5. Students should practice proper digital citizenship

  • Empathy for others should be practiced with an understanding of  an individual’s writing before commenting
  • No use of text lingo (example; LOL)
  • Proper peer critique should be emphasized with an emphasis on caring (example… do not be critical, instead use I wonder statements)
  • All comments should be academic (See above)
  • Do not use personal identifying information
  • No plagiarizing… give credit
  • There should be no bullying or put downs

6. Mix up media in discussions… do not always have them text based. Use documents, PDF files, movies, music, sound files, Power Points, website links, and images to promote the standards and concepts.

7. Keep on topic… try to provide discussions that will support the standards and 21st skills that you wish to emphasize and that will be assessed.

8. Use a rubric if providing a discussion for understanding. Make sure your students are aware and use the rubric when making any comments or replies. Possibly include the 21st century skills of Communication, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, and Creativity. Do not try to include all, and break these skills down to individual components. Example… instead of Creativity use one component such as divergent thinking.

9. As a teacher be sure to model by practicing what is required, while also commenting on what students write.

10. Encourage students to create their own discussions so they begin to own the process.
 
 

Step Two: Online Discussion Ideas To Go Up The SAMR Scale - 15 minutes

A brief description of the potential for online discussion forums, with four main examples: 1) making student writing a point of discussion through webpage comments, 2) using voting mechanisms to help students evaluate writing, 3) allowing students to contribute to various online discussion communities, and 4) using wiki pages to teach revision and comparison. Watch video and be ready to explain how you might bring a classroom discussion up the SAMR Scale. How might this be simulated your younger students?
 
 
Take a moment to discuss the following ideas
Where are most of your discussions at the present time?
What ideas can you come up with to take discussions up a notch?
How can we be assured that students are reaching the higher levels?
What can we do for younger students to get them to begin understanding how to participate in a discussion online?

Step Three - Building a Discussion Activity ( 30 minutes)
In this step please read the following article. Whether on your own or in a workshop please create an discussion activity that could be used in your classroom. Try to go beyond the standard classroom room discussion of answering a question. If at a workshop Be ready to share and possibly even build in a build Google slideshow. 

If you are in a younger grade... how might you prepare students so they have the skills needed to someday participate. Your lesson might even be an activity using a forum in a face to face discussion on digital citizenship. See some of the included Digital Citizenship videos included below.

Promote Digital Citizenship… Your Academic Discussion Forum can be 10 Different Tools

By Michael Gorman at  (http://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com)

You are perhaps aware that more and more classrooms are opening their doors to student discussion online. This happens in the virtual online classroom, but also in the blended classroom. As you might know, the blended classroom is one where students and teacher meet in a traditional school but use the internet to open the classroom walls to the community, region, country, and world. There are many services that provide student discussion forums that can facilitate student online interaction.  Some well known ones include, Edmodo, My Big Campus, and Moodle.

A discussion forum does not have to be question and answer. In fact ,there are countless ways to use them. I want to share with you ten that I came up with. Please share with me others you might have, and I will add for a future list. One point to remember is to be sure to keep your point of emphasis aimed at the content standards, 21st century skills, while moving up Blooms higher levels. Here are some ways I have found that you can bring your discussion forums up to a new level. Please enjoy and let me know what you think and ways you have found that a discussion forum can be a engaging tool!

1. A formative tool – As a way to check  understanding from class that day. This might be a temperature check and drive teacher facilitation and instruction the next day. Some times students will see others not understanding and give their own explanation.  Many times we can all learn from the crowd.

2. A divergent tool – Students do not reply with answers… but new questions. The rule states that no one is allowed to answer a question… just pose new questions. What might the class do with this the next day?

3. A reflection tool  -Students reply not giving a statement of content or material… but a reflective thought to show application & connection. Allowing for important meta-cognition can be powerful while engaging learning. Take a step up on Blooms!

4. A launch and inquiry tool – No explanation or instruction… students are posed with a question or video that will cause thinking/questions that will be used the next day.  Perhaps students just need to come with thoughts, questions, and ideas that they first express online and will relate to higher learning activities in class.

5.  A connection tool – Students watch a video or do a reading that emphasizes what happened in class and they then make connections in their reply. It is important that the students be required to show the connection. A video might be used that demonstrates the math they learned in real life. How might students show that connection?

6. A mentor tool – An online expert could be a guest forum host to answer questions for student on a topic. This is a perfect opportunity to open the classroom up to real world connections and possibilities. Any mentors should be interviewed and approved by teacher and front office while following school guidelines.

7. A simulation tool – Thoughts and ideas could be posted on line by a famous person or character in a book. Students would reply showing content  knowledge and application. Teachers will get insight on student understanding of important concepts.

8.  A role play tool – Students are given characters in a book or history and interact in a discussion using their character role. Imagine the conversations that will happen and how a teacher can assess understanding at the same time.

9. A research tool – Students are asked to find one or two research links to share with each other. They give reasoning for the link they selected.  A collection of student links or a Google Custom Search Engine for the class is built for everyone to use.

10. Student centered tool – Why not put students in charge of a forum? It might fit into their PBL project or promote content in the classroom. Having students in charge can give ownership and stress the importance of an academic forum and the scholarly ways they should be used.

Before getting started watch the video below. How might a forum go outside the traditional discussion box and incorporate other tools and possibilities? 
 
 

Assessment of Online Discussions

Visit some of the various rubric ideas below. What could you use as either an entire rubric of just one area that you wish to assess. This is an wonderful opportunity to assess the 4 C's such as Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity. Visit some of the links below and decide how you might build your own rubric. You probably have your own rubric maker so go ahead and get started. Along with the below ideas you can also bring in your content area standards as on of the items in the rubric. Keep the rubric simple and understandable for your grade level. Make sure students have the rubric before going online to discuss.
 

More Ideas

Kindergarten Around the World 
(tagged on twitter as #kinderworld) is a twitter-based, virtual exchange project, for our very youngest students.Project signups from interested teachers are accepted on an ongoing basis. Please visit Project Description and FAQ to sign up. Video below provides a quick look.
 

 

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