Online Discussion Learning Design


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In house workshop for faculty at Asian International College

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Online Discussion Learning Design

  1. 1. The Principles of Online Discussion Activity Design
  2. 2. Our educational philosophy … Participatory :: Authentic :: Flexible
  3. 3. Authentic assessment • "... Engaging and worthy problems or questions of importance, in which students must use knowledge to fashion performances effectively and creatively." Grant Wiggins
  4. 4. 4 • multiple-choice tests • fill-in-the-blanks • true-false • matching words • … Students are passive learners  surface learning Authentic assessment is not:
  5. 5. 'I hear, I forget. I see, I remember. I do, I understand.' Confucius (551-479 BC)
  6. 6. 'That what we have to learn to do, we learn by doing.' Aristotle (384-322 BC)
  7. 7. "Life is an open book exam." • Students need to be convinced of the authenticity of the task if they are to fully engage Professor Alan Blinder, Princeton University
  8. 8. In brief … • Harnesses the power of ICTs to emphasise currency and real world authenticity • A formative assessment item … … invites the student to reflect on what they have learnt (determining what is relevant).
  9. 9. 'Willing suspension of disbelief' • Required to enjoy poetry, plays, novels … and assessment • Enjoyment  engagement  deep learning Samuel T. Coleridge (19th century poet)
  10. 10. A celebration of learning! • Boredom and stress not conducive to deep learning • Important to catch the imagination and appeal to the creativity of the learner • Multimedia enhancements increase student satisfaction and learning (O'Brien and Seawell 2004; Vaughan 2001)
  11. 11. Key features • Students play the role of decision-maker, auditor, consultant or advisor • They are presented with a unstructured (open-ended) problem that requires resolution (usually in the form of a set of recommendations/ suggestions)
  12. 12. Getting started • Keep a look out for material all the time … not just when developing curriculum • e.g. Local newspaper and periodical websites, magazines, television news or current affairs programmes
  13. 13. What to look for • A 'story' that learners can easily relate to in lay terms • Objective: to get them to think deeply about an issue • Student to act as 'expert witness' - an effective mechanism for the validation of their learning in their own minds
  14. 14. Creating a scenario • Having settled on a theme, gather together various media that can bring the case to life • The inclusion of hyperlinks, photographs and/or streaming media adds a human dimension  authenticity
  15. 15. Lead characters • No 'story' is complete without lead characters • Using real people with names, and pictures and voices acts as a catalyst to student engagement • Fictional characters must give the appearance of being real!
  16. 16. Defining the parameters • The definition of the assessment task might amount to no more than a paragraph • Ideally it should invite a wide of variety of 'equally correct' responses • Revisit the stated learning outcomes … what skills should they have?
  17. 17. 17 Appropriate media: where to look …
  18. 18. Common problems 1 • Scenarios taken out of text-books – Must be unique – Must be no model solutions on the Internet somewhere • Scenarios having the appearance of being taken out of text-books – Lifeless – Limited or no interactivity
  19. 19. Common problems 2 • Links that are overly academic – The goal is to create a scenario – Links to several long and turgid articles defeats the object • Links that are too trivial – Business periodicals are preferable to “Randy's Daily Rant” • Links that do not add value – Links for the sake of having links serve as a distraction
  20. 20. Common problems 3 • Boring, corporate-style images, instead of 'action shots'
  21. 21. 21 Common problems 4 • Audio-video links that are too long (> 7 minutes) • Audio-video links that add little value, or where the 'story' is mixed in with other stories.
  22. 22. Common problems 5 • Students get asked a traditional sounding question … “Why did the XYZ company fail in this market? Critically discuss.” • Instead of … “Goh Chok Tong is concerned about the future viability of the company and he has employed you as consultant to advise …”
  23. 23. Common problems 6 • The task is too structured, or includes too much instructional material • Real life is complex and unstructured … let the students figure it out for themselves
  24. 24. Striking a balance • Avoid 'spoon-feeding' but … • … not so unstructured a student is either struck by 'writers block' or goes off in the wrong direction.
  25. 25. Summing up … • Role play  the bridge between a learner's education and their professional practice • Placing the learner in the role of the key decision maker, the expert advisor, or the auditor serves to validate the student's learning
  26. 26. Example from CEFE course: • Activity (unit 3.2) Share with your classmates the cases of illness that have happened in your classroom / school. Discuss why illness has the potential to spread quickly in a school setting.
  27. 27. Example from CEFE course: • Activity (unit 3.2) Following a recent outbreak of hand foot and mouth disease at your centre, you and your colleagues have been asked by the Centre Director to discuss how to avoid such incidents in the future, or at least discuss how this illness (or others) might be controlled in a school setting. What can be learned from such incidents? Can they be completely avoided? What would you consider to be best practice in managing such a problem? Image source: