Get creative! Get kooky! We look forward to your ideas.
Emma, *loved* your use of voki! And yes -- it does indeed sound "creepy & mechanical."
I'm thinking about Beth's question ... thinking that if you want to guarantee a lackluster response, the trick is NOT to be either creative or kooky. The trick is to be boring & predictable (which kind of translates as "mechanical", as you mentioned). A discussion post opener that starts me yawning even to think about it is "In a few sentences, tell us why you are taking this course." Another sort of discussion post question I find particularly annoying is the question to which the instructor (or poster of the question) obviously already knows the answer. Such a question is obviously not trying to promote true discussion at all & it guarantees a lackluster response from me (unless it's for serious marks in which case I will grudgingly post a minimal reply.)
Hmm, I don't mind being asked Y R U here? It would get a reasonable response by me.
In this case it is to get ideas and connect with others doing the same on the currently topic.
I am more put off by being asked about the negative "tell me what you don't like". so the current prompt is difficult for me. (Is that lackluster enough?)
Alice I can appreciate you digging into our approach here and questioning it a bit. We were riffing off of the TRIZ process from Liberating Structures with our discussion prompt. Perhaps trying to "clear space for innovation" (as it says in the write up).
If you read through TRIZ, you'll see asking about the worst result possible is the first step in the structure...the next (if we were going to do it) would be admitting to ourselves what we might be doing that in some way, shape or form resembles the practices that might lead to a worst result, and the third step would be to talk about what first steps we could take to stop doing those things. Check it out perhaps? I'd love to know what you think, or if you're still feeling like that approach is not sitting well with you. (Which is very valid as well!)
Thank you Beth, that is a very concise explanation of TRIZ. I like it.
A text transcription of what your link has to say would be helpful :)
Just so you know, I'm looking into this JUMBO emoticon issue here in Moodle! (I'm tempted to insert a *surprise* emoticon here. *smile*)
colour me surprised! *wide eyes*
and good luck with that!
I was thinking that a link may draw more curiosity than an explanation. *smile* More of a discovery learning approach I guess but I can see how some want to know what they are putting time into. Perhaps a short descriptor like this might be of use?
Open for a digital (voki.com) answer to the question. Time invested is about 3 seconds.
What do you think?
(Edited by Sylvia Currie - original submission Tuesday, 19 February 2019, 10:44 AM - I removed emoticon because we're having issues with oversized appearance on the site. Always something!)
Your post must be a minimum of 200 words and include proper APA citations linking your thoughts to research.
I'm looking forward to learning with you and Sylvia again. This is such a much-needed micro-FLO for me from both the facilitator and student experience and point of view.
Some thoughts and maybe a little ranting about online discussions. I'm taking two online 400 level courses now. Most of the weekly work is participating in discussions based on readings/videos with the expected formulated prompt to respond to and relate the readings/videos to a specific question and then to respond to at least two other student's posts (for very minimal, but needed participation points). This all feels very course-content/mark driven with little/no interaction with the teacher and maybe one or two responses from other students if anyone chooses to respond to your post; however, if no one responds to your post, what was the point of spending a lot of time writing and posting it. Sometimes, I wonder if anyone is reading all the posts anyways... especially the instructor, as there hasn't been a weekly summary of student posts, although one instructor sends out a weekly announcement thanking us for our participation. I have yet to receive any instructor feedback to any post I have posted. In one course, the prompts are designed by a student group (group assignment) as is the weekly summary and technology-marked, multiple choice quiz (for very minimal points)..so where is the teacher-student interaction? End of rant.. my point - repetitive format that becomes expected and non-motivating.
Out of confusion comes clarity.
I think that discussion questions that either are too broad or too specific create lackluster responses. For example:
Too general - What are your thoughts about the reading this week? What did you find interesting?
Too specific, prescriptive or repetitive - Write out the definition to the following terms .... List two strengths and two weaknesses about ...
I also think that predictability can kill creativity and student interest. Having the same type of discussion question each week for 15 weeks can be very boring and unmotivating for students.
When I look under ideas here:
"ask students to brainstorm the worst that could happen (like our discussion prompt for you!)"
However, that wasn't how I read the prompt here:
"What are some things you could say in a discussion prompt that would guarantee a lackluster response from your students?"
I don't have an answer to the second one, but in the first one, I find that an unclear question leaves me wondering what is going on and what is expected of me. A surefire way to leave me confused and sitting on the sidelines.
Interesting that Alice's read of this discussion prompt is not what we intended. I think that means we need a re-write! What changes can we make so it's clear the goal is to generate a list of how to achieve the worst possible results?
Meta note: This discussion is a variation of TRIZ- liberating structure
"Share your thoughts about ___."
A prompt like this is too vague and generally garners responses like, "It's good" or "It's interesting." Borrrr-rrrring!
My apologies for jumping into the discussion late. Everyone has provided a number of great points. I'll add asking a question that has one correct answer, making it difficult for others to also craft a response when the answer has already been provided.
Apologies for jumping in a bit late; there are so many good answers here already.
I think one of my stand out ones (and shameful go to's) is often "tell me what stood out to you from the reading" or "what do you think about this?"
I am looking forward to learning some new strategies that are not so lackluster and boring!!
Late comer alert! Thanks for all the input on this topic - I enjoyed reading everyone's.
I am not as experienced in writing discussion questions as others, so I will speak from my own experience. As a former student, I found it difficult to answer discussion questions that are quite distant from the topic/content of the course. For me, relevance is really important in learning, and I often found online discussion prompts to be too far ahead of the course content, which made it difficult for me to answer with adequate understanding of the topic. I understood the reason for building questions like that, but I did not appreciate them because they became predictable after the first one and I did not find the discussion to be fruitful.
I also disliked "comment on at least two other discussion threads". It just becomes a hunt for something I can say, not about digesting and appreciating others' threads and perspectives. And like others said, it is a dose of dopamine when it comes to others' response to mine.
Junko, thank you for providing the very important student experience. The idea of discussion before the topic/content is not one I had considered in terms of how much context one needs to be able to fully engage effectively.
What might be an alternative to the comment on 2 other threads? Would it make sense to assign group discussion? How many would be a reasonable number in an online, asynchronous environment?
Maybe you have some other ideas?
Emma, you asked:
>>What might be an alternative to the comment on 2 other threads?
This is a really good question. I've seen the requirement to "comment on (or respond to) 2 other posts (or classmates)" used SO MUCH to meet a minimum requirement to "engage interaction" in a discussion forum. As Junko mentioned, often it becomes just "a hunt for something I can say" rather than an authentic conversation. Another requirement that can be problematic is to force students to produce a minimum number of responses, at a set word count minimum, in order to get any marks at all for the discussion. Sometimes discussion participation doesn't merit a lot of marks anyway, which makes for a very uphill battle.
The only solution (if you can call it that) I've found is to a) post a PROVOCATIVE question to begin with; b) encourage students to respond to each other's post; c) respond myself (as instructor/facilitator) if they don't; & d) keep at it until the conversation warms up a bit. Kind of like fanning a little fire until the kindling is aflame.
Great idea Gina!
What if you went even further and gave them a lighthearted "provocative scale" to show students examples of what you mean? What does provocative look like? What does it not look like? (I suppose you'd have to add in comments about being respectful etc or still adhering to group agreements...)
Jaw Drop - [give example statement here]
Wide Eye - [give example statement here]
Grin - [example]
Meh - [example]
Yawn - [example]
Ok I'm sure someone would have better categories but just spitballing here!
I like your possible solutions Gina, especially the responses by the instructor to model and demonstrate the purpose of the discussion in the first place. As a student, I have always appreciated the instructors encouragement, support and suggestions for new inquiries; their involvement ups the value.
Good point Emma, and I wasn't thinking of alternatives when I wrote my comment! As an instructor, it is probably the easiest to request a set number of comments.
I wonder if a student could be encouraged to suggest additional learning resources such as journal articles, previous studies or learning from other sources to add value to another person's thread, rather than a set number of comments? It is a little more labour-intensive on the student's part, but it encourages further exploration of the topic rather than "hunt for something I can comment on", which often diminishes the quality of discussion. It also encourages students to build their learning resources as well?
I agree with you Junko, that it is easier to require a fixed number of responses in the hope of good dialogue with evaluation - I have done this too. Now, after the last couple of days I wonder if some more open, more creative topic or prompt, with some fanning of the flames, might work as well as the reward of a few extra participation marks.
As for the addition of additional learning resources in postings, it can be overwhelming, both as a student and instructor, just some filler, that we have too little time to get to. However, I have been very grateful for classmates that have posted a perfect article that would have remained overlooked by me had it not been added to the discussion.
labour intensive on the student's part- isn't that what engagement is *smile*
(Edited by Sylvia Currie - original submission Friday, 22 February 2019, 7:34 AM took out that giant emoticon and squished it into a small jar)