Educator Strategy for Managing Dialogue in Rich Online Interactions
Abstract: Graduate courses engage students in small and whole group discussions as part of in-class activities. The transition to an online format for graduate courses has produced a surge of creativity in terms of ways to offset the absence of in-classroom interactions. Some of the things we are experiencing are translation of lesson activities to online formats such as (a) reading reflections, (b) collective reading analysis in groups and (c) whole group synthesis. One interesting case is of facilitated graduate classes featuring a research scholar as a panelist. As a result of the COVID-19 circumstances, a new strategy was required to facilitate the conversations as we transitioned to online synchronous classes modality. Here, we discuss how we introduced a digital board (Trello) as a strategy to record the conversations, dissonance and reflections of participants during the scholar presentations. To capture the collective thinking processes, we make use of a digital board to record the strands of the conversations amidst whole group discussions. The two questions being addressed are (1) how useful are students finding the digital board to and (2) from an instructor perspective, how useful is the online board, for instance to gauge level of engagement among students. We discuss the case from the lens of assessing the usefulness of the strategy for supporting the processes underlying sense-making in dialogue-rich conversations online.