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CREATING LEARNING COMMUNITIES
AND DEVELOPING CRITICAL THINKING
THROUGH ONLINE DISCUSSION
BOARDS
TEFL
CIEE Berlin 2015
Jenn...
INTRODUCTION
2
Overview
• Canvas LMS
• The CIEE TEFL Course
• The importance of online learning communities
• Problems with our course
• ...
CIEE’s step toward reinventing international education
Berlin 2015 4
• Canvas, LMS
• To help students to adapt intercultur...
The CIEE TEFL course
Berlin 2015 5
• 150-hour English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) training course
• 10 week course coveri...
Discussion boards and the online learning community
• Previous studies attest to the importance of “social spaces” in onli...
CIEE TEFL discussion boards
• Why?
• Create a learning community – we learn better together
• Importance of sharing opinio...
Survey Says
Berlin 2015 8
What the trainees had to say…
• “I really love how interactive the course is, and the constant support from
the staff is a...
What were the problems?
What we could initially see:
• Quantity of posts
• Level of dialogue
• Tutor (facilitator) presenc...
Factors in creating an online learning community
In Dennen (2005):
• A higher quantity of posts correlated to higher quali...
Salmon’s stages
Stage 1 2 3 4 5
Description of
trainee
engagement
Accessing and
engaging with
the course.
Establishing
onl...
Research methods
• Coded discussion board activities based on Salmon (2002) and
Dennen (2005)
• Count number of comments a...
Preliminary results – trainees and moderator
14
0
5
10
15
20
25
mean
posts on
forums
mean
posts per
trainee per
forum
mean...
Preliminary results – average posts per DB per module
• Trainees may experience fatigue and loss of interest.
• Explore wa...
Salmon’s stages
Stage 1 2 3 4 5
Description of
trainee
engagement
Accessing and
engaging with
the course.
Establishing
onl...
Discussion board codes
A Topic encourages participants to share personal information (stage 2)
B Topic encourages particip...
Salmon’s stages across our course modules
Pre-
course
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1
2 5 1 4
3 1 1 1
4 4 5 2 2 3 3 6 10 1 8 6
5 2 ...
Preliminary results – additional observation
• Observation:
• Tasks requiring critically evaluating peers and/or voicing
d...
Planned changes
 More tutor engagement (Feb. 9)
 Send-back points (module wrap-up) (May 18)
 Set-up (subscribe to DBs a...
What trainees are saying…
“[I enjoyed] the relationships I built up with my peers and my tutor. The
discussion boards were...
What are the take-aways?
• What are the aims of your DBs?
• How can you get the students to share their own experiences an...
The Reinvention of Study Abroad
• Taking online courses before, during, and after
the study abroad experience
• Preparing ...
QUESTIONS?
24
Group discussion
• Discuss with your groups the following:
• What types of online courses does your institution currently
...
Works cited
Dennen, V. P. (2005). From message posting to learning dialogue: Factors affecting
learner participation in as...
THANK
YOU!
THANK
YOU!
27
ciee.org
Founded in 1947, CIEE is the world leader in international education and
exchange, delivering the highest quality...
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Creating Learning Communities and Developing Critical Thinking Through Online Discussion Boards

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As we seek to reinvent study abroad for the 21st century, a more meaningful use of digital learning, including online courses, is a logical approach. From predeparture to re-entry, online instruction has great potential to deeply inform and even transform the study abroad experience on multiple levels. This session provides a framework for creating online discussion-board activities to encourage learning communities and critical thinking. Optimal instructor engagement also will be addressed. Data from our own courses and a bibliography will be included. Attendees will investigate the implications for their own programs through a guided discussion.

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Creating Learning Communities and Developing Critical Thinking Through Online Discussion Boards

  1. 1. CREATING LEARNING COMMUNITIES AND DEVELOPING CRITICAL THINKING THROUGH ONLINE DISCUSSION BOARDS TEFL CIEE Berlin 2015 Jenna Garchar, Faculty-led and Custom Programs Manager jgarchar@ciee.org Dr. Belinda Clements, CIEE TEFL Tutoring Manager belinda.clements@trainingexpress.es Marcella Caprario, former CIEE TEFL Program Manager
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION 2
  3. 3. Overview • Canvas LMS • The CIEE TEFL Course • The importance of online learning communities • Problems with our course • Salmon’s stages and our research • The reinvention of study abroad! • Q & A • Group discussion 3
  4. 4. CIEE’s step toward reinventing international education Berlin 2015 4 • Canvas, LMS • To help students to adapt interculturally, to build understanding, and to communicate effectively • To collect, measure, and report out evidence of student learning outcomes • First used by TEFL and Teach Abroad departments • Implementing Canvas for all CIEE Study Centers, Global Institutes, and Global Programs, as well as for CIEE training • Phase 1 – London, Berlin, Prague; Open Campus Bridge for Global Institutes; Global Architecture & Design (all in progress)
  5. 5. The CIEE TEFL course Berlin 2015 5 • 150-hour English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) training course • 10 week course covering 130 hours, plus 20 hours of teaching practicum • Trainees in classes of 6-13 • Online units (presentations, videos, audios, quizzes, and discussion boards) • Group tutor (live online tutorial, discussion boards, feedback, and personal email)
  6. 6. Discussion boards and the online learning community • Previous studies attest to the importance of “social spaces” in online collaborative learning (King, 1998; Rourke, Garrison, & Archer, 2001; Aviv, Ravid, & Geva, 2003; Rose, 2004; as cited in Dennen 2005) • “Online courses are qualitatively different from traditional, classroom-based courses. . . All aspects of class discussion – initiation, facilitation, conclusion, and feedback – require different approaches when an asynchronous medium is used” (Dennen, 2005, pp. 127-128). Berlin 2015 6
  7. 7. CIEE TEFL discussion boards • Why? • Create a learning community – we learn better together • Importance of sharing opinions, experiences, reflecting (feeling valued) • Sharing different cultural experiences of trainees particularly valued • Space for evaluating, creating, analysing (HOTS) • What? • 2-8 DBs per week • Discrete DBs occur within a ‘linear’ course • Trainees have to respond once • Role of the tutor (before and after) 7
  8. 8. Survey Says Berlin 2015 8
  9. 9. What the trainees had to say… • “I really love how interactive the course is, and the constant support from the staff is always helpful and appreciated. My tutor is wonderful and so understanding.” • “I enjoyed the consistent feedback and encouragement from the tutor” • “The course is giving me both the practical knowledge and the confidence I need to be an effective teacher.” • "Repetitive, and as with any online course, it is deprived of real discussion." • "The discussion boards work well when you are the 4th or 5th person commenting because you can respond to your peers. As the 1st person commenting, it is difficult to remember to come back and comment on others work. “ • "I found it was difficult to keep up with discussion board posts.” 9
  10. 10. What were the problems? What we could initially see: • Quantity of posts • Level of dialogue • Tutor (facilitator) presence • Quality of posts Berlin 2015 10
  11. 11. Factors in creating an online learning community In Dennen (2005): • A higher quantity of posts correlated to higher quality dialogue • Dialogue between students was positively affected by instructor presence in the discussion • Structure (clear expectations, instructions, and deadlines) positively affected quality of posts and level of dialogue • The most successful activities in terms of student participation (number and quality of posts) had both clear relevance and explicit learning objectives. Salmon (2002) • Learning community ‘stages’ Berlin 2015 11
  12. 12. Salmon’s stages Stage 1 2 3 4 5 Description of trainee engagement Accessing and engaging with the course. Establishing online identity and connecting with others. Exchange of information and learning- related contributions. Knowledge sharing. Taking control of knowledge construction. Collaboration, critical and practical thinking. Responsible for own learning. Self insight and reflection. Discussion board activity focus Exploring what is expected of participants and identifying the value of participation. Sharing personal information and experiences, noticing similarities and differences between participants. Contributing and sharing information, explaining and clarifying. Interaction with others online, knowledge development (rather than knowledge sharing). Evaluation and critique, defending own judgments. Awareness of why adopt positions. Berlin 2015 12
  13. 13. Research methods • Coded discussion board activities based on Salmon (2002) and Dennen (2005) • Count number of comments and threads • Analyze types of comments • Compare results before and after changes • Seek probable causal relationships • Examined two pre-change courses (10/6 and 11/17) • Implemented one change – requiring more tutor engagement • Examined two post-tutor engagement course (2/9 and 3/9) • Analyzed DB tasks against Salmon’s five-stage model 13
  14. 14. Preliminary results – trainees and moderator 14 0 5 10 15 20 25 mean posts on forums mean posts per trainee per forum mean returns per forum mean moderator posts per forum 10/6 course 11/17 course 2/9 course (after tutor engagement)
  15. 15. Preliminary results – average posts per DB per module • Trainees may experience fatigue and loss of interest. • Explore ways to maintain interest and enthusiasm. • Consider fewer DBs, particularly toward end of course 15 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 Pre-course(7DBs) 1(5DBs) 2(5DBs) 3(2DBs) 4(2DBs) 5(3DBs) 6(7DBs) 7(10DBs) 8(2DBs) 9(8DBs) 10(8DBs) 9-Feb 17-Nov 6-Oct
  16. 16. Salmon’s stages Stage 1 2 3 4 5 Description of trainee engagement Accessing and engaging with the course. Establishing online identity and connecting with others. Exchange of information and learning- related contributions. Knowledge sharing. Taking control of knowledge construction. Collaboration, critical and practical thinking. Responsible for own learning. Self insight and reflection. Discussion board activity focus Exploring what is expected of participants and identifying the value of participation. Sharing personal information and experiences, noticing similarities and differences between participants. Contributing and sharing information, explaining and clarifying. Interaction with others online, knowledge development (rather than knowledge sharing). Evaluation and critique, defending own judgments. Awareness of why adopt positions. 16
  17. 17. Discussion board codes A Topic encourages participants to share personal information (stage 2) B Topic encourages participants to share personal experiences, preferences, or opinions (stage 2) C Participants share information they have found out / jigsaw (stage 3) D Topic encourages participants to undertake critical, analytical thinking (stage 4) E Topic encourages participants to partake in creative thinking AND/OR practical thinking including applying, using and practicing (stage 4) F Topic encourages participants to link personal experience to course content (stage 4) H Topic encourages self-reflection on course material (stage 5) I Participants share completed coursework and comment on each other’s work (stages 3 & 4) 17
  18. 18. Salmon’s stages across our course modules Pre- course 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 5 1 4 3 1 1 1 4 4 5 2 2 3 3 6 10 1 8 6 5 2 2 1 1 1 2 18
  19. 19. Preliminary results – additional observation • Observation: • Tasks requiring critically evaluating peers and/or voicing disagreement seem to have the lowest numbers of responses to peers. • Conclusion: • Trainees may be uncomfortable with or unclear about this process. • More stage 3 activities and collaborative assignments may be necessary. • Specific instructions may be necessary. 19
  20. 20. Planned changes  More tutor engagement (Feb. 9)  Send-back points (module wrap-up) (May 18)  Set-up (subscribe to DBs and set notifications) (June 1)  Specific training to enhance quality of tutor presence (ongoing)  Fewer discussion boards per week (Nov 2)  Staging discussion board topics (Salmon) (Nov 2)  Structure (instructions, minimum response requirement, prompting with announcements, small groups for some DBs) (Nov 2) 20
  21. 21. What trainees are saying… “[I enjoyed] the relationships I built up with my peers and my tutor. The discussion boards were extremely beneficial and fun to interact in. Thank you all for a great course!“” “The discussion boards are fun and engaging. I enjoy getting to see others' ideas and perspective.“ "I have enjoyed the discussion boards and have really enjoyed getting to read other students ideas and perspectives regarding teaching.” "The discussion boards and weekly tutorials are really great ways to interact with other students enrolled in the course. These truly make me feel as though I'm in a class, rather than doing an online course alone. I've enjoyed hearing other students input and seeing their progress in the course as I progress myself." 21
  22. 22. What are the take-aways? • What are the aims of your DBs? • How can you get the students to share their own experiences and opinions? • How can you build a learning community? How is the group dynamic likely to evolve? • How can you structure your DBs in a way to promote meaningful dialogue? • What are you asking them to do? Have you modelled this for them? • What’s the role of your tutor/moderator? 22
  23. 23. The Reinvention of Study Abroad • Taking online courses before, during, and after the study abroad experience • Preparing for the experience • Linking the experience to the students’ majors • Providing a sense of community • Facilitating continued connection to the home campus • Re-entry support 23
  24. 24. QUESTIONS? 24
  25. 25. Group discussion • Discuss with your groups the following: • What types of online courses does your institution currently have related to study abroad? What types of online courses may be possible and effective? • Why is developing an online community important in Study Abroad? • How can you use discussion boards to develop an online learning community? 25
  26. 26. Works cited Dennen, V. P. (2005). From message posting to learning dialogue: Factors affecting learner participation in asynchronous discussion. Distance Education, 26(1), 127- 148. Salmon, G. (2002). Etivities: The Key to Active Online Learning. London: Kogan Page Limited. 26
  27. 27. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! 27
  28. 28. ciee.org Founded in 1947, CIEE is the world leader in international education and exchange, delivering the highest quality programs that increase global understanding and intercultural knowledge. We provide participants with skills, competencies, and experiences that elevate their ability to contribute positively to our global community. Council on International Educational Exchange 300 Fore Street Portland, ME 04101 207-553-4000 © Copyright CIEE 2014. All Rights Reserved.ciee.org Founded in 1947, CIEE is the world leader in international education and exchange, delivering the highest quality programs that increase global understanding and intercultural knowledge. We provide participants with skills, competencies, and experiences that elevate their ability to contribute positively to our global community. Council on International Educational Exchange 300 Fore Street Portland, ME 04101 207-553-4000 © Copyright CIEE 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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