Tag Archives: discussion

A Closed Group

Discussion

Back in 2009 at ALT-C we had the VLE is Dead debate. My view back then hasn’t changed much in the last four years. To save you watching the video, the heart of my viewpoint was that the VLE was the core of a student’s online presence and that other tools and services would plug into that.

I was recently discussing with a group of Psychology students how they used and felt about the VLE. Their response was quite positive, they found the VLE useful and it helped them with their learning. What they also said was that they were pleased it was available. When I asked them about discussions and chat functionality, they were quick to respond that no they didn’t do this on the VLE, but were much more likely to use their “homemade” group on Facebook for those kinds of discussions. When I reminded them that learners had asked for Facebook to be blocked in the library, they replied that this didn’t matter as they preferred to use Facebook on their smartphones.

You get a picture of how they were using different online environments and tools to support their learning. They were making choices about which tools they preferred and those that they didn’t. The students could have created a group on our Mahara site, but they preferred to use a familiar tool such as Facebook.

The question we might want to ask is how do we “assess” these discussions or even access them? Another question might be, do we need to?

If students are using a Facebook group for discussions, should we be trying to impose restrictions on their choices and make them discuss course related stuff on the VLE rather than in a closed group on a different service? Or should we focus on the importance of discussing over the importance of the platform?

In face to face discussions, these do take place in a classroom or seminar, however the vast majority happen elsewhere, whether that be in the refectory, the coffee shop, the library, at home, in the workplace or while travelling. Can we be surprised that online discussions also take place outside the “official” discussion forums?

100 ways to use a VLE – #97 Visual Discussions

Old Camera

Using forums on a VLE is a great way of providing a place for text based discussions. The asynchronous communication medium offers a very different experience to a face to face discussion in a classroom situation; one that some learners may prefer. I have never thought that online discussion forums replace classroom discussions, no much more they complement what happens in the classroom. Different learners will prefer different discussions, some will enjoy the spontaneity and immediacy of a face to face discussion, others will prefer the reflective thoughtful aspect of a text based asynchronous discussion. Similarly the context may affect the choice by learners, they may prefer face to face for certain topics and textual for others.

It can be easy to focus on text when using online discussions, but it is very easy to use images (even video) in a forum to create a visual discussion.

Images can be used as the stimulus for a discussion or learners can use images for their responses. In a similar manner you could use video.

Video and images can be really useful for those learner for whom writing is a challenge and can make what was a text based discussion an accessible discussion.

Adding images and videos to a text based discussion on the VLE is one way that you can engage learners to make use of one of the more useful and interactive features of the VLE.

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #068: That’s my idea! No it’s mine!

Ideas, sharing ideas are discussed along with Java and Screenr problems, discussion forums, Bloom’s taxonomy and the 1% rule.

With James Clay, David Sugden, Lilian Soon, and Dave Foord.

This is the sixty eighth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, That’s my idea! No it’s mine!

Audio MP3

Download the podcast in mp3 format: That’s my idea! No it’s mine!

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes

Since this show was recorded a recent update 3.6.13 to Firefox for OS X has “fixed” the Screenr bug we discussed at the beginning of the show.

In the recording we refer to a podcast I made for the JISC Online Conference.

Audio MP3

Shownotes

100 ways to use a VLE – #5 Having an online debate

Debating  is a really useful way of enhancing learning, whether it be a formalised classroom debate, or an informal discussion arising from a presentation or a video.

How many though consider the needs of different learners and learning styles when organising debates? Some learners are reflective and they need to time to think and reflect on the debate. Some learners may be working or on online courses won’t be able to join a face to face debate.

A live debate using a chat facility on the VLE is one option that facilitates a debate in a way which allows quieter learners to contribute. A live online chat facility is a useful tool, and as the VLE itself handles the authentication process, learners needn’t worry about creating new user accounts or remembering passwords for when chat is used.

A moderator (or chair) may want to be appointed to allow learners an opportunity to make their point, to avoid the chat becoming a free for all. This is similar to the role of chair during a face to face debate.

Another way of undertaking a debate on the VLE is through a discussion forum. As with the chat, the VLE itself handles the authentication process, again learners needn’t worry about creating new user accounts or remembering passwords. In many ways this can be a different debating experience with the opportunity for all learners to make their point.

You may want to indicate how long the learners have to make their points (over a week for example) and close the debate with learners making a summary of the debate’s key points.

It is not an either or situation, it’s not about having just online debates in the same way as it is not just about having all face to face debates, it’s much more about allowing a range of debates using different mediums to reflect the different needs and learning styles of different learners.

Online debates are not difficult, but do require (in the same way that a face to face debates do) some planning and facilitation. It also helps if you try out a debate as a user first.

First you need to decide on a motion and nominating specific learners to put forward a view that supports the motion and learners to argue against the motion.

You may also need to put down some guidelines on how the learners should participate to ensure that the debate doesn’t degenerate into personal attacks. Also you may want to provide guidance on how learners should participate and what expectations  you have for those learners.

Debates are a great way of discussing topics in many subjects, an online debate on the VLE is just one way in which this can be facilitated.

Image source.

100 ways to use a VLE – #3 Having an online discussion

Discussion is a really useful way of enhancing learning, whether it be a formalised classroom discussion or seminar, or an informal discussion arising from a presentation or a video.

How do you ensure that all learners contribute to the discussion?

How many though consider the needs of different learners and learning styles when facilitating discussion? Some learners are reflective and they need to time to think and reflect on the discussion

Online discussion using a forum on the VLE is one option that facilitates discussion in a way which allows reflective (and quieter) learners to contribute.

It is not an either or situation, it’s not about having just online discussions in the same way as it is not just about having all face to face discussions, it’s much more about allowing a range of discussion using different mediums to reflect the different needs and learning styles of different learners.

So how do you go about it?

The Tutor sets a question, for example:

2002 saw the first full year of the Euro.

Read the following article from the BBC News pages and each member of the group to contribute to a discussion entitled The Euro works with John to summarise by the 17th

Bob

Each of the students from the group would be expected to contribute to the discussion, with one of the members of the group posting a summary.

Facilitating such a discussion requires similar skills that you would find in the classroom, praising and bringing in quieter members of the group.

that’s a good point Charlie, what do you think Claire

You could also have an online discussion in order to provide evidence for Communication Key Skills.

Online discussions are not difficult, but do require (in the same way that a face to face discussion does) some planning and facilitation. It also helps if you try out a discussion as a user first.