Education

Asynchronous discussions / Discussion boards

Social distancing practices may promote feelings of isolation, so focus on ways to engage your students in a collaborative discussion. Students can discuss practice problems (to save time, you might assign some from the text or re-use some existing problems you have). Your textbook may also come with online resources you can use to facilitate discussions. Be clear on your expectations for participating in discussions and how students will be evaluated (if at all). To minimize academic integrity issues, it’s advisable to evaluate students on how well they collaborate in the discussion (by number/content in posts) rather than how correct the final answer is. That being said, if the correct answer is not heavily weighted, you can feel free to use this as your teaching time, guiding students toward the correct answer once they’ve grappled with the problem for an appropriate amount of time.

The discussion tool in your LMS can also be used to promote self-regulated learning and community.  Create a discussion thread entitled, “Urgent questions” or similar. As the instructor, post questions you are emailed, along with the answer, so that all students can benefit from the information. Encourage students to use this thread to post and answer questions about technology or course material. Set expectations that students should be playing the vital role of  “first responders” to any question that is asked; you may even incentivize this with a participation grade. Often students can help each other and gain confidence in their abilities to navigate the content within the online environment. You can then review student questions and responses, and affirm or clarify as needed. This method significantly lightens the burden on the instructor, who may feel like they need to check the online space continuously. 

Consider what platform your students are most likely to use for these discussions. Some students will log into the LMS discussion board, but you may get more participation with an app that allows texting or email text because it is easier to access. 

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