A Spiral Approach to Partner-Based Online Discussions Over Time in Online Courses
Abstract: One of the powers of online learning is that it can be done anywhere, anytime, and often at the individual learner’s desired pace with structures and benchmarks set by the instructor, and online discussion forums have been an integral part of this effort to provide social learning experiences for students online. An area of concern, however, is that frequently social learning and deep, multilevel cognitive learning are treated separately rather than as an inclusive package, with practices and outcomes that are separate and distinct rather than intertwined and co-generative. This proposal describes an approach that recognizes the tricky concept of time, the importance of scaffolding and social constructivism, and the need to ground online practices in a spiral approach (Bruner, 2009; National Research Council, 2000) with Bloom’s revised taxonomy (Krathwohl, 2002; Wedlock, 2017) as a guide. Students are paired in online discussions over three-week units in which the unit follows a scaffolded Understanding-Analyzing-Transforming structure. Pairs provide each other feedback in order to support each other’s growth and learning. It is hoped that the roundtable format will strengthen this framework and help to identify theoretical and practical shortcomings in the approach and in the analysis to provide more robust learning opportunities across time in online courses.