Beyond Threaded Discussions: New Tools and Strategies for Online Courses

ID: 52060 Type: Roundtable
  1. Susie Gronseth and Haoyue Zhang, University of Houston, United States

Wednesday, March 28 10:15 AM-11:15 AM

Presider:
Elizabeth Dalton, URI; Dalton Ed Services International, United States

An integral component of online and blended courses is discussion Online discussions can be used to establish one’s social presence (both instructors and students) within an online course, and they provide a means for students to make visible their thinking on course topics (Dennen, 2008) Greater learner involvement in course discussions has been shown to correlate with higher levels of student success (Cheng et al, 2011; Dalelio, 2013; Goggins & Xing, 2016; Thomas, 2013); thus improving the quality of the online discussion experience is worthwhile and can have direct gains in learner performance Threaded discussions are often used, but there have been some concerns over engagement and value to student learning (Reisetter & Borris, 2004) This workshop will equip participants to go beyond threaded discussions and explore new tools and strategies for designing and moderating online course discussions that promote student engagement and increased social presence (Gronseth & Zhang, 2018) Attendees will engage with tools for online discussions on digital bulletin boards, group chats, and video and virtual reality (VR) and  will explore how to set up and participate in discussions using these tools Strategies for instructor feedback during discussions, including recommendations for guidance, scaffolding, and evaluation, will be presented

Objectives

1. Participants will explain how online discussions can support online learning experiences. 2. Participants will identify appropriate tools for varying types of discussions according to course content, timing, group size, and response characteristics. 3. Participants will set up and participate in digital bulletin board discussions. 4. Participants will describe question starters and strategies for digital bulletin board discussions. 5. Participants will set up and participate in group chat discussions. 6. Participants will describe question starters and strategies for group chat discussions. 7. Participants will set up and participate in video and virtual reality (VR) discussions. 8. Participants will describe question starters and strategies for video and VR discussions. 9. Participants will identify three action items for implementation of session content into their professional practices.

Topical Outline

I. Introduction to the session (30 min.) A. Session overview and objectives B. Roles of online discussions in courses 1. Connections among learners, instructors, and content 2. Demonstrations of understandings 3. Formative evaluations by peers and instructors C. Types of discussions 1. Synchronous vs. asynchronous 2. Variations in group size, timing, and response formats D. Theoretical framework 1. Related research on engagement, satisfaction, and effectiveness 2. Support for social presence in online courses 3. Connections to Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles II. Digital bulletin boards (30 min.) A. Padlet 1. Guided hands-on exploration exercise 2. Discussion prompts and strategies B. VoiceThread 1. Guided hands-on exploration exercise 2. Discussion prompts and strategies III. Group chats (1 hour) A. GroupMe 1. Guided hands-on exploration exercise 2. Discussion prompts and strategies B. Twitter 1. Guided hands-on exploration exercise 2. Discussion prompts and strategies IV. Video and Virtual Reality (1 hour) A. Flipgrid 1. Guided hands-on exploration exercise 2. Discussion prompts and strategies B. vTime 1. Guided hands-on exploration exercise 2. Discussion prompts and strategies V. Wrap-up (30 min.) A. Review of session concepts, tools, and recommendations B. Participant reflections and action plans for implementation

Prerequisites

This workshop is intended for educators, instructional designers, and program coordinators. Prior experience in teaching online may be helpful but is not required. The workshop uses intermediate technology skills, building upon foundational technology skills in Web navigation, software/app installation, and use of microphone/webcam.

Experience Level

Intermediate

Qualifications

Susie Gronseth, Ph.D. focuses on breaking down barriers to learning through using technologies in ways that engage learners, represent content in a variety of ways, and provide opportunities for learners to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. She is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Learning, Design, and Technology program area in the College of Education at the University of Houston, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in learning technologies, educational multimedia, teaching strategies, and instructional design. She has over a decade of online teaching experience and specializes in strategies for teaching in online environments, where learners can be in the same city or across the world. She has a Ph.D. in instructional systems technology from Indiana University. She was recently awarded the 2017 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Online Learning Network Award for her work in gamifying an online graduate instructional design course. She is also a 2017 recipient of the University of Houston College of Education Teaching Excellence Award. She is Past-President of the ISTE Inclusive Learning Network and currently serves as the co-chair for the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) SIG in SITE. She regularly shares ideas and resources through her YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCr7IEPG7zQZOQuRQEpOO57g) and can be followed on Twitter @susiegronseth (https://twitter.com/susiegronseth). Haoyue Zhang, M.Ed. is a doctoral student and graduate assistant in the Learning, Design, & Technology Program Area in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education at the University of Houston. She specializes in the intersection of educational psychology and technology and is interested in enhancing student’s learning motivation and engagement in both traditional classroom teaching and digital learning environments. She is a co-recipient of the 2017 ISTE Online Learning Network Award for her contributions to a gamified course redesign, and she teaches technology integration courses in the teacher education program at the University of Houston. She presented a poster session at SITE 2017 on online discussion approaches and has a forthcoming book chapter on “Engaging Online Discussions” in Enhancing Social Presence in Online Learning Environments to be published in 2018. See her LinkedIn profile (https://www.linkedin.com/in/haoyuezh/) for more information.

Topics

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