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The Role Of A Teacher In Online DiscussionsA teacher can choose to be a silent moderator or an involved participant indiscussions depending on his or her objectives. There are benefits to each style ofmoderation. It is important that each individual teacher construct a clear role for theirinvolvement in the online forum so students know what to expect during onlinediscussions.Silent ModeratorA teacher who uses online discussions to compliment and extend in-class curriculum maychoose to be a silent moderator by limiting his or her involvement to posting questionsfor students to discuss. This role allows students the opportunity to take charge of thediscussion and, subsequently, their own discovery of knowledge.Teachers who choose not to actively engage in the discussions can take the information,insights, ideas, etc. presented in the online forum and weave them into classroomdiscussions and activities. [For more on this read “Weaving the Online Discussions Intothe Classroom.”] By restricting the teacher role to that of a silent moderator, the teacherdoes not filter or determine the direction of the discussion. Instead, students are allowedto engage freely in dialogue with their peers.Tasks of a silent moderator include: • Posting questions that will drive higher-level thinking and engage students in dynamic discussions. • Reading student responses in a timely manner to ensure the tone of the conversation stays respectful. • Removing any postings that are not conducive to maintaining a safe online environment, then communicating with students via individual messages or email to ensure future adherence to established expectations. • Responding to student questions and concerns via email or individual messages. • Actively referring to and drawing from online discussions while in class to ensure students see the value of their discussion in relation to curriculum. • Using the participation report each week to ensure all students are participating in the online discussion according to set expectations. Go to www.CollaborizeClassroom.com for more information
The Role Of A Teacher In Online DiscussionsInvolved ParticipantA teacher who plans to use the online environment to build on concepts or contentintroduced in class may choose to be an involved participant by regularly engaging inthe discussion. This role allows the teacher to steer the direction of the dialogue toensure that the conversations stay focused on particular aspects of the curriculum. Theteacher also has the freedom to model online etiquette, ask follow-up questions,compliment student responses and clarify confusions.The teacher who chooses to be an involved facilitator must be careful not to over powerthe discussion or post an overwhelming number of responses. It can be helpful for aninvolved facilitator to limit his or her responses to the same number of responsesrequired of his or her students each week. This will also alleviate the burden of feelingthat the facilitator must respond to each student or each discussion thread.Tasks of an involved facilitator include: • Posting questions that will drive higher-level thinking and engage students in dynamic discussions. • Reading student responses in a timely manner to ensure the conversation stays on track and tone stays respectful. • Responding to strong postings with complementary feedback, asking follow up questions that redirect the conversation, encouraging more depth in student responses, playing devil’s advocate, clarifying confusions, offering insights, etc. • Removing any postings that are not conducive to maintaining the safe space, then using the incidence as a teachable moment where safe space expectations are revisited. • Answering student questions in the online forum so all students can benefit from the answer. • Actively referring to and drawing from online discussions while in class to ensure students see the value of their discussion in relation to curriculum. • Using the participation report each week to ensure all students are participating in the online discussion according to set expectations. Go to www.CollaborizeClassroom.com for more information
The Role Of A Teacher In Online DiscussionsKeep Your Community ThrivingTo maximize student involvement, the involved facilitator should: • Limit commentary. Do not be overly involved in the discussion. • Allow the students to reach conclusions on their own, even if it takes time. Do not be the source of “right answers.” • Keep positive feedback specific, genuine and authentic. Avoid generic or vague compliments.Catlin Tucker is an English teacher at Windsor High School and has worked in Sonoma County for nine years. Shecurrently teaches 9th and 10th grade English and has previously taught 11th grade Advanced Placement English. She alsoteaches online college research writing courses through Axia College.Catlin earned her B.A. in English Literature from the University of California, Los Angeles and her Single Subject EnglishCredential and Education Masters from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her Masters in Education focused oncreating and maintaining a safe space in the classroom to lower the affective filter and create a more supportive andeffective learning environment.She is currently part of the Collaborize Team, designing resources for the education market. Go to www.CollaborizeClassroom.com for more information