Asynchronous online courses ◦ Level of control: online versus face to face ◦ “Removed” presence
When students and the instructor are online – are they online at the same time? Does that matter? Instructor is guide on the side Sense of anonymity
People use the dinner party metaphor – that the instructor is the host What are the assumptions of a dinner party?
How do assumptions effect the guide-on- the-side theory? How do the assumptions of a dinner party effect co-hosting with students? Is it appropriate to stop a topic at a dinner party?
Human Services courses have their own particular rhythms, topics, conversations Courses deal with issues connected to historically disenfranchised individuals ◦ Some of whom may be students ◦ The conversations may be personal and volatile because they address issues of diversity and distribution of resources, etc.
In CHS, the responsibility for instructors is somewhat different than other areas of study as we need to speak to . . . : ◦ Human services guidelines ◦ Ethical frameworks ◦ Practical applications . . . . . all in our communications and potential training of students We sometimes ask ourselves – why is this student in CHS?
They have personal experiences ◦ From their own experiences ◦ Family member ◦ Close friend These experiences are unique and are brought to the course ◦ How do we highlight them and make each person’s experience heard? Need to name and talk about the experience in an academic setting (but not necessarily in an academic way)
What motivates a student to respond the way they do on discussion boards? ◦ Sound intellectual? ◦ Assumption about what something means ◦ Allegiance ◦ Try to ignore ◦ Not knowing how to talk about it?
Scenario 1: Hierarchical comments A student’s sister with MS and a classmate says that’s nice but my child has autism
Model an appropriate response Name the issue of hierarchy and point out how limited it is Connect the issue to course content or practical field experience Diffuse with positive solution
Scenario 2 – Offensive comment Student says “Why can’t people just feed their kids better – why don’t they care?!”
Try to hear what the student is saying Unpack the statement with respect to course content Seek a balanced response Reframe the problem Attend to statement and anticipate responses Ask an open-ended probing question
Scenario 3 – Bullying comment A student who makes comments to each and every person’s posting – trying to make their thoughts more prevalent than others
Assume that a student doesn’t know what he/she is doing or how it affects the conversation Provide ongoing formative feedback “Take it outside” - Talk to the student privately about the issue – name it
Scenario 4: Non-validation No one responds to a student’s thoughts on the DB OR “when a point has a thread of discussion and all of a sudden the point gets dropped by all”
Determine when did the student post to the DB As an instructor – raise points in the student’s posting and make it a conversation piece Highlight connections with other students Analyze why did the discussion stop ◦ Natural evolution? ◦ Offensive comment or a comment that no one could respond to?
Scenario 5 – Path of least resistance Students that may be nervous, afraid to correct, or engage a fellow classmate
Attend and anticipate problems ◦ Especially in the beginning of the semester Model an appropriate response Respond/reframe thoughts
Do we go off topic? ◦ Is that a bad thing? ◦ Is that a good thing? Does it derail, silence, or disrupt the conversation? Has it made the class come together more as a group or to each other?
Don’t make assumptions about student postings or intentions in postings Don’t be afraid to “name an issue” for students if it appears Reframe/redirect conversation if needed
Define what it means to “participate” online in a discussion board ◦ Not Facebook or text message ◦ Academic discourse ◦ Validate personal experience within the context of a larger academic conversation ◦ Don’t always have to agree with topics – couch within course content or outside material Engagement Validation
Summarize and comment on student postings Certain things you may need to “take it outside” Connect discussions to course content or outside examples within a larger professional context
When it comes to the discussion boards, better to be mindful than obsessed The dynamic of the conversation is important to learning and should be examined