A rich theme that has emerged over the past week is the design and facilitation of online discussion. Sarah and Cindy shared some of their research results and resources that helped answer Sarah?s question about how to ?attend to designing generative exchanges within the communities they construct.? http://scope.lidc.sfu.ca/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=61&parent=333 Sarah noted that, ?one of my findings was that instructors who explicitly taught learners how to collaborate online to construct meaning/understanding/knowledge were successful.? And points out that, ?Scope offers an excellent example of this kind of explicit teaching in the ?Ask good questions? information box on the left-hand side of our reply fields.? Cindy added that, ?even motivated learners need to be maintained in a good spirit through the dedication and intentional cultivation of an intellectual environment from the teachers.? http://scope.lidc.sfu.ca/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=61&parent=346.
Questions I have for all participant is?.how useful have others found the SCoPE guides at the side of the composition window - Read carefully, Write carefully, Ask good questions, Use emoticons? In your online discussions, what design and teaching strategies have you found that cultivate an intellectual environment and teach learners how to collaborate?
Finally, Bruce pointed out that, ??by adding intellectual productivity through the publishing of a paper ? collaboration will have occurred. When designing a forum into a course there needs to be a distinction between an intellectual conversation and a collaborative effort.? http://scope.lidc.sfu.ca/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=61&parent=354. I?ve been considering two ?product? ideas for this seminar using the SCoPE wiki and I?m open to suggestions. The first is that we collect best practices that have been shared throughout this seminar and the second is, near the end of the seminar, we each share the most important thing we learned. Thoughts?
Thank you, Vivian, for picking up on the term that Sarah introduced into our discussion: "designing generative exchanges". I did a little research around that term and found very little. I'm wondering if Sarah can provide her definition for us.
In the meantime, I've been thinking about what it means to me. For a significant part of my career in education, I've believed in constructivist approaches to teaching and learning, so the idea that the postings to a discussion might generate new knowledge is one that is very significant to me. In the same vein, I like to think that the discussion forum's "animateur" should play a leadership role in promoting generative exchanges. I think Sylvia's prompts about posting are examples of how to promote rich postings, although of course there's a lot more to it than just reading, writing and questioning.
Yes, it would be a good idea to gather up key points at the end of the scheduled discussion and invite participants to reflect. Another good example of the generative process!
The ideas and strategies in this book take much time and practice to grasp (right Sarah and Marsha?) and I would worry about not doing it justice if I tried to summarize anything here. I do remember clearly what it felt like as a student in Sarah's Moving out of the Middle course, better known as MOOM. It reminded me of my first university level French course -- right when I thought I could speak this language after learning it "on the street" I realized that I was making all sorts of alarming mistakes!
I'll take a shot at a definition here: The facilitator/instructor brings forward contributions and reframes initial questions in an attempt to leave the participants with more to investigate and contemplate.
Now reading my definition I realize that it relates more to in-the-moment design, rather than designing generative exchanges before the course begins. Does this raise new questions on how much can and should be designed in advance?
My first thought when reading Liz's post on the topic was that Sarah's book was the only place where I've run into that concept. But, as Sylvia notes later in her post, what Sarah has to say about generative exchanges may have more to do with facilitating a discussion than with how the course is designed. However, I have seen courses designs that lent themselves to doing this sort of facilitation more than others do -- so it may be both a facilitation and a design issue.
Looking forward to what others -- especially Sarah Haavind -- have to say on the topic. (I am traveling at present and don't have my copy of Facilitating Online at hand, though I usually do!)
I'll make sure to get a copy of Sarah's book- I've been stuck a few times over the last couple of weeks in this seminar, and I could use some instruction.
I think you're saying that there are two types of tasks in producing generative exchanges - one is the design of the venue and activities, and the other is facilitating the discussion.
The design of the venue is very important and the SCoPE discussion about the eElearn conference underscores this. For example, the physical environment of the Wall Centre, where the conference was held, was not conducive to chatting with fellow delegates. Some courses are designed to allow learners to take more responsibility for their own learning through teamwork, study groups and evaluative discussion and these can be designed into a course.
I sometimes think about how city's and suburbs are designed - urban planners spend a considerable amount of time designing these spaces, but the inhabitants still require community "animateurs", as Liz noted. Both good design and facilitation are required for generative exchanges, and the tasks of the facilitator are dependent on the original design.
In the other discussion thread, Sarah discussed how she invited her students to record their reflections of their own and their peers' contributions to a discussion, at: http://scope.lidc.sfu.ca/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=71&parent=387 I imagine that this exercise would result in the students learning how to be better contributors and in turn this would result in the generation of higher quality knowledge. At the end of her course, she then has her students produce a Gallery of greatest insights. Presumably, these insights would be of higher quality as a result of the first exercise. Then, to what extent is this collection of insights the generation of knowledge?
Finally, Liz and others, what process might work well at the end of this seminar to generate a collection of greatest insights, key points, or interesting reflections?