Use word clouds for reflection and synthesis

Description Word clouds are those fun, visually interesting combinations of words that summarize a topic or idea. The size of each word in relation to the whole word cloud indicates that word’s prominence. (Typically, the larger the word, the more frequently it appeared in the source text. Word clouds can be seen in everyday life …

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Setting Discussion Expectations

Description Selecting an effective discussion topic is important, but does not guarantee an interactive, fruitful discussion. It is crucial for instructor to set the stage and establish clear expectations for how students should participate in the discussion. Learning Objectives Before designing an online discussion, think about what you want your students to learn from the …

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Provide Peer and Professor Feedback through Social Media

Description Facilitate student-instructor and student-student interactions using collaborative social media technologies. One popular web application is called Voice Thread. A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways – using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio …

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Prompts

Description Discussion prompts are the written “springboard” from which online discussions are launched and are essential to encourage shared understanding (Du, Zhang, Olinzock, & Adams, 2008). Discussion prompts can vary from pithy (e.g., “Discuss [Topic X]”) to verbose (e.g., an entire printed page of instructions). However, the best standard for gauging the effectiveness of a …

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Group Discussion Strategy

Description Working in groups can be challenging if groups don’t take the time to outline each member’s strengths and potential contributions and also the guidelines for how the group will act and react to situations as the project develops. This is especially true for large-size classes. Link to example artifact(s) UCF professor Susan Jardaneh clearly …

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Discussions large classes

Description Holding effective, engaging discussions in large classes can be a challenge. However, they provide an opportunity for online students to engage with each other and the instructor in a way not possible with other kinds of assessments. Here are some ideas to structure this effectively. Group Size: The most common acceptable number for groups …

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Discussion Rubrics

Description While faculty might hope that students can “just discuss” a topic online with little or no support, Beckett, Amaro‐Jiménez, and Beckett (2010) found that “even doctoral students may need explicit grading instructions, and therefore provide rubrics and sample responses while not stifling creativity” (p. 331). Rubrics provide clear expectations for students regarding how an …

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Discussion Prompts

Description Discussion prompts are the written “springboard” from which online discussions are launched and are essential to encourage shared understanding (Du, Zhang, Olinzock, & Adams, 2008). Discussion prompts can vary from pithy (e.g., “Discuss [Topic X]”) to verbose (e.g., an entire printed page of instructions). However, the best standard for gauging the effectiveness of a …

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Discussion Facilitator

Description While students may express a desire for more student-centered collaboration in the discussions, they may not fully understand the responsibility required to achieve it (Kanuka et al., 2007). Along with a thoughtful discussion prompt, facilitation during the discussion is often necessary to support students to engage in critical discourse (DeSmet et al., 2008; Maurino …

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Discussion Facilitation

Description Setting up a discussion prompt is important for initial structuring, but it is crucial to facilitate during the discussion to ensure it is progressing. Baker (2011) warns, “Unmanaged discussions invite chaos.” However, most instructors agree that participation and grading of discussions takes the majority of one’s time (Cranney, Alexander, Wallace, & Alfano, 2011). Here …

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