Hi Sylvia, Cindy, Sarah, and everyone...
Yes, I agree that the article by Garrison, Anderson and Archer’s (2000) “Critical Inquiry in A Text-based Environment: Computer Conferencing in Higher Education” has made a huge impact in the online education space. I responded in this forum back in 2001 with 20 related takeaways from my own research. See below. I listed them again. And I added 10 more a few minutes ago. See what you think...
I am responding to Randy Garrison's question, "How little do we really know of text-based, asynchronous, online learning?"
I think we know a great deal.
1. We know that students are extremely task focused. It is difficult to get them to be social even thought that helps foster community.
2. We know that some shy students "speak up" in the async communication when they might not in class.
3. We know that students expect fairly prompt feedback from their instructor and that as an instructor, it is hard to respond to all.
4. We know that building on online community is difficult if not impossible in an online class.
5. We know that critical thinking is scant in some activities (field reflections--where students tell stories) and higher in structured activities focused around content.
6. We know that global collaborations can enhance the interactions, the level of critical reflection, the motivation of students, etc.
7. We know that async discussions are permanent but that students tend to go on to the next topic and not revisit an earlier one.
8. We know that the first response to a post make a great deal of difference in terms of the amount and quality of discussion (oops, I am the first response).
9. We know that there are too many of us creating new discourse and transcript analysis schemes.
10. We know that students get confused online and need careful task structuring.
11. We know that some students will procrastinate and then complain that no one responded to them. We also know that we need procrastination screening devices so as to limit the number of procrastinators in an online course (such instruments are hidden as online learning readiness questionnaires, but they mean the same thing).
12. We know that with proper pedagogical structuring, students can generate a lot of information to read and respond to online.
13. We know that there are cross-cultural differences in terms of the social aspects and expectancies online.
14. We know that instructors take on many roles in the online discourse--pedagogical/intellectual, managerial, social, and technological.
15. We know that instructors who do not model good discussion practices have poor experiences online.
16. We know that when instructors dominate online discourse, students will wait in the weeds for them to tell them what to do.
17. We know that effective instructors do not lecture too much online. They offer feedback, coach, facilitate, question, redirect, push to explore, etc.
18. We know that students tend not to back up their claims online.Modeling from peers at other institutions helps.
19. We know that there are differences between async discussions (which are task focused and one way) and synchronous ones (which are more social-oriented and interactive).
20. We know that discussion dies out over time and that the later responses often have little in common with the original post or comment.
Of course, there is more that we know. Right?
= = = = = = = = = = =
Here are 10 more from 2012...
Sylvia Currie reminded me that above post today. I enjoyed rereading it. I used to be more brilliant in the past I think...Smile.
Here are 10 more...
21. Discussions as discussions are not enough (Part 1). Students need to see the relevance of online discussions. They do not want to just be going through the motions. They need something to excite or captivate them. This can be done through many techniques--links to news articles, experts coming in to offer advice, team competitions, cross-class or cross-cultural commenting, etc.
22. Discussions as discussions are not enough (Part 2). You might have students extend their postings into a class glossary or term list. Summarize, recap, extend, etc., the posts is vital. One student might be charged with this weekly or the entire class can do this throughout the course.
23. Discussions as discussions are not enough (Part 3). We can now juxtapose text against video. Instructors need to find ways to augment discussions with tools for visually representing knowledge. Tools like Gliffy or Mindomo for Bubbl.us for concept mapping or mind mapping; tools like Popplet for hyperlinking knowledge and terms to online video, text, and other resources; tools like Wordle for displaying content in a post; tools like MeetingWords for collaborative text editing from the discussion; or Wikis, etc. can all help learners dual code their knowledge.
24. Discussions as discussions are not enough (Part 4). If the course if blended, having students print out their asynchronous discussion posts and blogs and bring them to class can foster reflection. Have students circle key concepts in their posts or those of their peers. If the course is fully online, they can nominate a set of key terms in their discussion forums or blog posts that they might want to expand, list in a glossary, or link to other resources.
25. Discussions as discussions are not enough (Part 5). Have students form teams around their discussion posts and then post top 10 takeaways as a group. If a FTF class, have them create mini-posters of the discussions or research recaps from the articles read.
26. Content or questions from a synchronous webinar or session can be archived and serve as an asynchronous discussion prompt or reflection activity.
27. Anytime you can thoughtfully combine sync and async discussion, it will be a more powerful experience than either one alone. However, async prior to the sync is particularly engaging since students will display sets of biases and overgeneralize their learning prior to meeting a scholar or expert live.
28. Synchronous discussions and chats have become more prominent during the past decade as bandwidth has expanded and learners have become more savvy. They are also used to sync chats with Skype, Facebook, and other technologies.
29. Much learning can occur at the microlevel. Bursts of knowledge can be shared in Twitter, Facebook status updates, and chats in Skype. Effective asynchronous discussions can build on those short, pointed comments, while expanding on them in ways unforeseen at the start of course or unit. Use those quick topical comments in twitter or in a chat for more expansive reflections and discussions.
30. Discussion needs to be personal. Find ways to foster linkages between group discussions and personal blog reflections. Critical friend feedback on blog posts is one mechanism for that to occur. Another way is for learners to recap key points of weekly personal blog posts in group discussion forums. Still another way is to use a collaboration tool like MeetingWords wherein learners can highlight their respective contributions with different colors.
See what you think. Please add to my list. Thanks.