Facilitating the online discussion forum has been interesting and enlightening. Further reflection on this specific facilitation will be done as part of an assignment I hand in next week. This post is more about how to effectively facilitate a discussion forum in a general sense.
The following is an excellent resource that will be helpful when I facilitate an online discussion forum.
I have only done this once and it wasn’t as successful as I had hoped. Upon reflection and reading this resource I realize two of the potential reasons for this that I plan to rectify and other ideas I will include as well. According to Edutopia (2010) two imperative things I did not do was:
a) Participate in the forum (I tried to let the students take ownership of it and commented on people’s comments in person but I think posting comments or questions to keep students on task or to role model critical thinking likely would have helped enrich the discussion. Afterall they were in the beginning stages of self-directed learning)
b) Have a marking rubric or clear outlined expectations for the type of responses (I clearly indicated how many responses were needed- quantity) but not the depth of thinking and inquiry that I was looking for (quality).
I will certainly use online discussion forums again with these two things revised, as well as potentially some of these ideas:
- If one of the main learning outcomes is developing students’ critical reflection skills I would assign a different leader to each week to manage the forum, to pose the critical thinking questions to increase the depth of analysis and learning of their peers. The leader would have clear expectations/marking rubric that outlines how to fulfill this role.
- Create clear netiquette (etiquette in the online environment) (Edutopia, 2010)
- Within the expectations include a retrieval and sharing of resources about particular themes or topics
- Encourage students to link it to key concepts they are learning in their other courses or in courses they took in previous semesters.
- Consider other ways to assess learning that is achieved in discussion boards including: one minute papers, concept maps, etc. that are handed in as a ‘pass’ to next class. This promotes accountability in participating in forum but also helps teacher see what learning is occurring in the online learning environment. (Edutopia, 2010).
Edutopia (2010). Mastering Online Discussion Board Facilitation: Resource Guide. Available at https://www.edutopia.org/pdfs/stw/edutopia-onlinelearning-mastering-online-discussion-board-facilitation.pdf