Posts made by Gina Bennett


Junko, after thinking it over a bit more, I think you are right: it is CRAZY hard to come up with 5 questions! I like your suggestion to provide something as more of a base to get them started. It's tricky, because the big thing with this type of work (curriculum development in unusual circumstances) is that you often know very little about the learning audience or the environment in which you will be teaching & I'm not sure a journal article would help (unless maybe related to intercultural communication?). Maybe if I posted an image of the project community? Do you think that might help generate questions?


Leonne, your comment..

>>Sometimes, I think discussions are a way to keep the students busy while the teacher is doing something else either within or outside the course

... gave me a good chuckle -- you are SOOO right!!! I have indeed been a student in online courses where the "discussions" felt more like being sent out to amuse myself during recess.

I guess the big question is: do you think the students are actually learning something from the discussion? If not ... WHY require it at all?


hi Emma

Let me see if I understand your predicament: you want your students to reflect on their experiences re teaching & learning and propose some ways things could go better. Or just to sit with that query on their minds ("mull") for a little while, spend some time in that state of creative not-knowing. You want to open the discovery (& the discussion) up wide, BUT also generate -- publicly or privately -- some concrete ideas for change.

Hmm. That's a tall order. 

I'm a BIG fan of appreciative inquiry so I like what you're trying to do with that approach. But when I ponder your revised prompt; i.e.

>>What constructive outcomes could happen if you changed your approach to any aspect of a course?

... I confess the first thing that pops into my mind is "but WHY would I change my approach to how I'm currently teaching Course X? I'm already teaching it the best way I know how (otherwise I would have already changed, wouldn't I)??"

I agree with Jeff that I would need a fair bit more clarification before I responded to this prompt. For example, what do you mean by "approach"? Your suggestion to "provide a few examples" would probably go a long way to help people get started. What do you think about suggesting something maybe a bit radical to get them thinking? Maybe even a combo of the appreciative inquiry & TRIZ approaches? I don't know, ... something along the lines of:

Suppose you suddenly stopped during [some approach, be specific] & replaced that with [some other approach, be specific]. What's the best thing that could happen? What's the worst? 


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.


Thanks for the suggestion, Beth. I had a quick look at the Workshop tool & I think it could indeed work. Like a lot of people I get set in my ways, sticking with one or 2 tools that I'm most familiar with, & forget that Moodle has some pretty cool tools that accomplish the learning goal better &/or more easily. Definitely worth exploring further!