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Session 1 of Effective Moderation and Animation of Online Discussions for the Catholic Schools Office Diocese of Broken Bay

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  1. 1. Effective Online Moderation Written and presented by Dr Carmel Bendon Davis & Mr Francis Flores
  2. 2. What?• Online technology is the MEANS for educational delivery, NOT the education itself.• Technology should enable, facilitate, support and enhance learning and skills acquisition.• Similarly,Good online moderation enables, facilitates, and supports communication between those who are working on enhancing their learning, their skills acquisition and their professional interactions
  3. 3. What is a “moderator”?• One who acts moderately• One who takes the „middle line‟, or acts as a „go-between‟, in interactions in order to bring benefit to all parties.
  4. 4. What is a[n] [online] moderator?• A moderator is a forum user who has been given (by the administrator or employer) access to the posts and threads of all members for the purpose of overseeing, facilitating, managing and, when necessary, animating the discussion. At times a moderator might answer users concerns about the forum, and highlight general questions and comments from forum users for the purpose of furthering the discussion. A moderator might also redirect technical, and other specific, questions to more appropriate [professional/technical] people.• In addition, a moderator might also responsible for deleting offensive or inappropriate posts; merging, moving, and splitting of posts and threads; closing down and renaming threads; liaising ex-forum with contributors who violate forum rules and/or netiquette expectations for the site.
  5. 5. What is an “administrator”?• The administrator manages the technical details of running a website such as creating new sites and discussion sections and sub-sections; managing and overseeing the site rules; making announcements pertaining to the website – its functioning, maintenance, databases and backup operations
  6. 6. What is a “post”?• “A post is a user-submitted message enclosed into a block containing the users details and the date and time it was submitted.” ( )
  7. 7. What is a “thread”?• A thread (sometimes called a topic) is a collection of posts, usually displayed from oldest to latest.• A thread is defined by a title, an additional description that may summarize the intended discussion, and an opening or original post ... which opens whatever dialogue or makes whatever announcement the poster wished. A thread can contain any number of posts, including multiple posts from the same members, even if they are one after the other.• A thread is contained in a forum, and may have an associated date which pertains to the last/latest contribution to that thread (and not to the date on which the thread was commenced).• (Information here is based on )
  8. 8. Australian Internet Usage 2011(Source: ABS)• At the end of June 2011, there were 10.9 million internet subscribers in Australia (excluding internet connections through mobile handsets). This represents annual growth of 14.8% and an increase of 4.4% since the end of December 2010.• The phasing out of dial-up internet connections continued with 95% of internet connections being broadband.• Australians continued to access increasingly faster download speeds, with 87% of access connections offering a download speed of 1.5Mbps or greater.• Mobile wireless internet (excluding mobile handset) connections (44%) now exceed Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) connections (41%) in Australia. Mobile wireless (excluding mobile handset connections) was the fastest growing internet access technology in actual numbers, increasing from 4.2 million in December 2010 to 4.8 million in June 2011.
  9. 9. Australian Mobile Usage (Source: ABS)• MOBILE HANDSET SUBSCRIBERS• At the end of June 2011, there were 9.7 million mobile handset subscribers in Australia. This represents an increase of 18.1% from December 2010.• Of the 9.7 million mobile handsets, 3.6 million (37%) were dedicated data subscriptions and 6.1 million all other active standard mobile subscriptions.• The volume of data downloaded via mobile handsets over the three months ended 30 June 2011 was 3,695 Terabytes.
  10. 10. WHO is the moderator?There are 3 main types of moderators:• The “hidden” moderator (who might also be the administrator). (In some very vast social network sites this moderator may be an algorithm, not a human).• The “expert/tutor/leader” moderator who is guiding the discussion for pedagogical benefit of the group users.• The “peer” moderator who is one among several/many group members who facilitates and animates the discussion of his/her peers but is not “the expert”, and who maintains at all times an attitude of professional respect towards his/her peers.
  11. 11. Basic Requirements of a Moderator in a peer-facilitated and an educational online site• An understanding that learning is about communities• Ability to set clear “rules of engagement” – in the opening post – about the practical, social and educational aspects of the forum• - in the school situation, to set out clearly what is expected of students and what they can expect from you (as the tutor/moderator) in the forum• Ability to generate engagement/conversations in the forum area• Ability to know when to “animate” and when to “step aside” – e.g. Sometimes students or participants will answer each other‟s questions; let them
  12. 12. Specific responsibilities(may not apply to all moderation situations)1. Establishing forum time and netiquette parameters2. Alluding to macro-level issues of the course content if applicable (that is, acting as a "navigational" presence)3. Drawing in participants, facilitating and animating discussion4. Identifying areas of agreement/disagreement5. Clarifying unclear or contentious points; enabling understanding6. Encouraging, acknowledging, or reinforcing student contributions7. Focusing the discussion on specific issues8. Summarising the discussion
  13. 13. How? Establishing forum time andpractice parameters• In the first discussion forum BE THERE before any students/peers access it.• Introduce yourself and set out a couple of simple, straightforward “rules” or guidance in how the forum should be used.• Model the responses – in form and content – that you expect from the forum participants
  14. 14. Example of introducing (tutor) time limitsTutor-facilitated• Hello everyone and welcome to ABC101. I‟m your tutor, Dr E. Ville and I‟ll be guiding you through all the components of this online course. A very important component – and one that you‟ll note is compulsory and worth up to 25% of your marks – is the discussion forum. This is where we discuss the main topic areas and where you‟ll be responding to specific questions and sharing your ideas. You‟ll get better acquainted with what is expected the more you participate and I‟ll post more detailed instructions once we‟re really into the course. In the meantime please note that this is an asynchronous discussion so you can post at anytime during the week of the topic with which we‟re dealing. I‟ll be reading all your contributions but, because of my own busy schedule, I‟ll only be responding to your posts and putting up my own tutor contributions on Tuesdays between 1 & 2 pm, and on Fridays between 10 & 11. If you need a speedy response to your post or online query then those times are the best for you to be online. Otherwise, as I‟ve said, I will respond but only during the specified times. For other more general inquiries please email me at:
  15. 15. Drawing in participants, facilitating andanimating peer-facilitated discussion• Assume a welcoming and “equal” tone, acknowledging that you are a peer, one of the group• Draw in, encourage, others to participate by a brief statement about the benefits that YOU (personally) see as coming from forum participation• Do not overpower the discussion, not dictating either the pace or quantity of others‟ contributions• Be discerning in your role: if the discussion is going well between other participants then “step back”• Do not answer questions posed in the forum by participants; that is, others (peers) should share their ideas and responses. Of course, you can offer an opinion or even suggest a relevant research article if it‟s warranted but, perhaps, “hang back” a while to see if others offer this advice
  16. 16. Example: Peer-facilitatedHello everyone. Welcome to our first forum in this online module. I‟m Carmel D, one of your peers/fellow teachers/principals and I‟ll be moderating the next (few) discussions as part of my own professional development and, hopefully, together, we‟ll find this forum to be a supportive and stimulating space in which to share our insights and ideas. Our discussion here is asynchronous so please feel free to contribute at any time of the day (or night) that suits you. My schedule this term allows me to look over your contributions and offer my own on Monday evenings between 9 & 10 pm and on Saturdays between 8 & 9 am but, remember, if you need technical help with the site at any time you can email
  17. 17. What constitutes a “good” discussion contribution?Criteria for effectively “grading online discussion” provides workable parameters.
  18. 18. Assessments: Student ExpectationsResearch reveals that students value:• Clearly expressed expectations• Clearly discernible relevance – association between course content and assessment tasks• Timely and constructive feedback• Marks and grades that reflect stated criteria
  19. 19. Some suggested criteria for gradingonline participants’ discussion(from Sharon Kleinman, „Strategies for Encouraging Active Learning, Interaction, and AcademicIntegrity in Online Courses‟ in Communication Teacher. Vol. 19, No. 1. January, 2005, pp.13-18) • Exemplary • Contributes well-written commentaries about the assigned readings and thoughtful response messages to the discussion boards • Offers examples and demonstrates understanding of assigned readings in an exemplary manner • Properly cites sources of information and ideas • Meets deadlines for submitting commentaries and response messages • Regularly asks and answers questions and participates in online discussions above and beyond the required contributions of commentaries and response messages • Responds to requests for assistance [on technical and/or course- related issues from fellow students]
  20. 20. Some suggested criteria for grading onlineparticipants’ discussion (continued)(from Sharon Kleinman, „Strategies for Encouraging Active Learning, Interaction, and AcademicIntegrity in Online Courses‟ in Communication Teacher. Vol. 19, No. 1. January, 2005, pp.13-18) Good• Contributes well-written commentaries about the assigned readings and thoughtful response messages to the discussion boards• Offers examples and demonstrates understanding of assigned readings• Properly cites sources of information and ideas• Meets deadlines for submitting commentaries and response messages
  21. 21. Some suggested criteria for grading onlineparticipants’ discussion (continued)(from Sharon Kleinman, „Strategies for Encouraging Active Learning, Interaction, and AcademicIntegrity in Online Courses‟ in Communication Teacher. Vol. 19, No. 1. January, 2005, pp.13-18) Satisfactory• Contributes commentaries about the assigned readings and response messages to the discussion boards by the weekly deadlines• Offers examples and demonstrates understanding of assigned readings Failing• Does not contribute regularly and substantively to the discussion boards
  22. 22. • Citation Details: Rourke, L. and Anderson, T. (2002). Using Peer Teams to Lead Online Discussions.Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2002, (1). ISSN:1365-893X []
  23. 23. Source: Rourke & Anderson (2002), (continued).• The pedagogical rationale for discussion is best understood from a constructivist perspective. Constructivists argue that knowledge is not so much discovered, or transmitted intact from one person to another, as it is created or „constructed‟ by individuals attempting to bring meaning and coherence to new information and to integrate this knowledge with their prior experience. Discussion can be an excellent activity for supporting these efforts. Oliver and Naidu (1996) assert that explaining, elaborating, and defending one‟s position to others (as well as to oneself) forces learners to integrate and elaborate knowledge in ways that facilitate higher-order learning. Research in face-to-face settings by Arbes and Kitchener (1974), Azmata and Montgomery (1993), Berkowitz and Gibbs (1983), Gall and Gall (1990),Maitland and Goldman (1973) has provided empirical support for these notions.
  24. 24. Source: Rourke & Anderson (2002), (continued).... Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, and Archer identify “three roles or sets of responsibilities that must be addressed if online discussion is to be a valuable component of students‟ learning. Referred to collectively as „teaching presence,‟ the three roles are:• instructional design and organization - includes responsibilities such as selecting topics from the course content that are suitable for discussion, implementing a specific discussion strategy, and establishing participation expectations.• discourse facilitation - includes responsibilities such as drawing participants into the discussion; identifying areas of agreement and disagreement; and establishing a supportive climate for learning.• direct instruction - includes responsibilities such as presenting content, diagnosing misconceptions, and providing assessment and feedback.Attending to each of these responsibilities is a complex and time-consuming task. Yet, each is necessary to ensure that the discussions contribute to the students learning experience."
  25. 25. Source: Rourke & Anderson (2002), (continued). As Kremer and McGuiness (1988) explain: “Where there is an obvious imbalance of power and expertise among those present, it is unlikely that an atmosphere conducive to openness, to debate, and to a free, frank, and fair exchange of opinion will ever be fostered” (p. 46). Ultimately, the concern is that instructor-led discussions can easily revert to the recitation structure, or initiate-respond-evaluate structure, of a traditional lecture in which the student is often a passive and unreflective audience member.
  26. 26. Source: Rourke & Anderson (2002), (continued).Advantages of using peers in the role of discussion leader. “Student-led discussions provide a free and relaxed atmosphere for discussion, which makes students feel uninhibited in asking questions and challenging the statements of others” (p. 192). This type of environment supports the beneficial processes associated with discussion and leads to positive evaluations from the students (Bluxom et al., Tagg, 1994;Kremer and McGuinness; Murphy et al., 1996). A[nother]... benefit is the increased depth of understanding that comes from leading the discussion. Bluxom et al. note “the person who leads the group can acquire an increased mastery of the subject matter by learning it well enough to deal with it effectively in the group discussion context” (p. 224).
  27. 27. Source: Rourke & Anderson (2002), (continued). Disadvantage of “Expert” vs Peer Facilitation: another view “De Volder (1982) points out that discussion leaders who are subject matter experts function more effectively not only in the direct instruction role but also in the facilitating discourse role because they know when the discussion is going off-track; they can ask better questions; and they are better at stimulating discussion."
  28. 28. Working in the Discussion Forum (1)(Tutor): Hello everyone and welcome to CAR666 The Devil in the Detail, and a particular welcome to this discussion forum. Im your tutor, Carmel, and this is where well be “meeting" regularly to discuss many of the main issues of the course. Its a place where you can exchange ideas about the course material and your own wider experience and reading on the topics. I‟ll be giving you some specific guidelines on how to make the best use of this forum in my post here tomorrow but for the moment, why dont you begin by introducing yourself to me and your fellow students. Perhaps youd like to share a little about your interests and the reason youve decided to do this course.(Student Sue): Well, someone has to start so I guess Ill be brave. Hello everyone, Im Sue. I teach Maths at a high school in Newcastle but I„m hoping to apply for a job at a nearby Catholic school and so I wanted to get my Grad Cert. Im married and have 2 teenage boys, I dog and 2 goldfish. I love reading and so Im sure Ill enjoy getting back to study - its been quite a few years.
  29. 29. Working in the Discussion Forum (2)• (Student Cassie):Wow, Ive never studied before. My names Cassie and Ive just finished my HSC. Im working part-time in a local café and Im not sure what I want to do but I thought studying online could be fun but Im pretty nervous about it. Does anyone know what were meant to do with all those assessments. And how do I know when I should be online in this forum.• (Student Harold): Hello, Im Harold and I have 4 PhDs and a number of Masters in various fields and Im very, very smart so Im sure Ill be able to help you with any enquiries, Cassie. Youll note that the tutor said shed tell you in another post how to use the forum.
  30. 30. Working in the Discussion Forum (3)• (Tutor): Thank you, too, Harold, for your offer of help to Cassie - Im sure youll have lots to contribute. It might be best, however, if course-specific enquiries are directed to me as the tutor. This ensures that theres no confusion about whats expected of students. That doesnt moan, of course, that you shouldnt help each other - sharing information and ideas is what this discussion area is really about. And, yes, youre right, Harold, I will be giving some detailed information here tomorrow so please all be sure to look for, and take careful note of, that message.• (Student Tom): Im Tom. I like surfìng and Im into all kinds of technology so thats why Im doing this course. Got no idea what were meant to do here though. How do I find out? Does anyone know what were meant to be reading?
  31. 31. (Student Sue): Carmel said shed tell us tomorrow but Ido know that the readings are clearly accessed by linksin the main study area. Theres readings for all themodules. Dont worry, Im sure well get the hang of it.(Student Tom): Whats a module?(Student Harold): Whats a link?