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A common assignment given in an online class is for students to participate in a discussion forum. Many online discussions forums are setup so that students are asked to respond to a prompt and reply to posts from their classmates. The discussions are likely to be underwhelming if the discussion forum is not setup to encourage substantive discussions.

When planning and facilitating quality online discussions, you should provide:

  • Discussion prompts that encourage student engagement
  • Clear/specific instructions and expectations
  • Specific/descriptive grading criteria
  • Strategic feedback

The Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) developed a set of resources to help instructors teach effectively, whether in an on-campus classroom or in a virtual learning environment. Online Teaching Toolkit has resources and recommendations that can be immediately put to use by instructors, to benefit both faculty and their students. ACUE’s Plan and Facilitate Effective Discussions resource, which is a part of the toolkit, has recommendations for a general rubric for discussion forums, reflection activity, and discussion feedback that you may find helpful.

In a recent Quality Matters (QM) Success Story Webinar, Lisa Kidder and Mark Cooper shared a resource that has suggestions for Alternative Discussion Structures. The resource includes specific learner instructions and grading criteria for each alternative discussion format. Some of the alternative discussion formats in the resource are reflections, case studies, timeline collaborations, student facilitation, small group/share, video analysis, in the news, and debates. The resource explains where the connection to QM Specific Review Standards and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guidelines for the discussion formats are.

If you are new to using discussions in Brightspace, you can find how-to resources for discussion forums on our blog.

Image credit: image by geralt from Pixabay

laptop screen with image of Zoom window with camera screen on

Many faculty find themselves teaching remotely because of the pandemic. One topic related to remote teaching that comes up often is student engagement during Zoom class meetings. Instructors who meet their students synchronously through Zoom want to know that the students are paying attention and are engaged during the class session. Some instructors feel that for student engagement in a synchronous class they should force the students to turn their cameras on during the class meetings. This article by Karen Costa, a Faculty Development Facilitator, explains why it is a really bad idea to force students to turn their cameras on from a trauma-awareness and equity perspective.

Are you looking for ideas for student engagement in Zoom sessions that do not require you to force your students to turn their cameras on? In an article posted on LinkedIn, Karen Costa provides some practical strategies that can help you to engage your students in a Zoom session. A few of her strategies are:

  • Encourage students to use non-verbal feedback including raise/lower virtual hand, answer yes/no to questions, speed up/slow down, and emoji reactions (clapping hands, thumbs up).
  • Ask informal questions throughout the session and encourage students to use the chat to engage with you and their peers.
  • Use formal and/or informal polls.
  • Embrace the pause. Pause during the class session to give students time to think and answer.
  • Invite students to share out via audio and or audio/video in addition to answering in the chat.
  • Teach students how to be on-camera in a Zoom session (e.g., lighting, background, virtual background, mute/unmute microphone).
  • Normalize the fear of being on-camera.
  • Try using breakout rooms.
  • Make the chat the heart of your session.
  • Set the tone for engagement from moment one.

If this has piqued your interest, you can read more about these strategies in Karen’s Making Shapes in Zoom article.

Also, we have Zoom how-to resources on our CAT FooD blog. You can find links for the Zoom how-to resources here:

Photo credit: “Zoom call with coffee” by Chris Montgomery from Unsplash

A conversation between Don Saucier (K-State) and Elizabeth Yost Hammer (XULA)  on teaching, learning, and "trickle-down engagement."

Don SaucierDon Saucier earned his Bachelor of Arts in psychology and classical civilization from Colby College, and a master's degree and a doctoral degree in experimental social psychology from the University of Vermont.

He is the director of undergraduate studies, chair of the Undergraduate Program Committee, and co-director for the teaching apprenticeship program in the psychological sciences department at Kansas State University. He has taught a broad range of classes at the undergraduate and graduate levels, from large sections of General Psychology to small classes in Advanced Psychological Research Methods.

His numerous awards and honors include the Putting Students First Award for Outstanding Service to Students, the University Distinguished Faculty Award for Mentoring of Undergraduate Students in Research, the William L. Stamey Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award from the College of Arts & Sciences, the Commerce Bank Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award, and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Elizabeth Yost Hammer is the Director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and a Kellogg Professor in Teaching in the Psychology Department. She received her Ph.D. in experimental social psychology from Tulane University. She regularly teaches Introductory Psychology, Research Methods, and Freshman Seminar. Her research interests focus on the scholarship of teaching and learning, and she has contributed chapters to several books intended to enhance teaching preparation including The Handbook of the Teaching of Psychology. She is a co-author of the textbook, Psychology Applied to Modern Life. Dr. Hammer is a past-president of Psi Chi (the International Honor Society in Psychology), and served as Chief Reader for Advanced Placement Psychology. Her work in the Center for the Advancement of Teaching includes organizing pedagogical workshops and faculty development initiatives. She is a member of the American Psychological Association, the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, and the Professional and Organizational Developers Network.

Links for this episode:

Transcript:

Coming soon!

This past Monday, my friend, colleague and full-time online instructor, Dr. Teresa Canganelli, came to CAT to present 3 mobile apps. For anyone who was unable to attend, I thought I would share them with you.

Tellagami is a free app that allows you to create avatars and record a message for your students up to 30 seconds in length. What a fun and engaging way to reach your students to remind them of an upcoming test or answer a question many of them were asking.

Audioboo is not only an easy and free way to record a message up to 3 minutes long, but it houses a vast library of recordings from around the world on myriad topics.  The site has been flooded with comments and recordings concerning yesterday's passing of Nelson Mandela.  Here is one from the Nelson Mandela Institution.

Evernote is a wonderful way to manage files, lecture notes, documents , share them, store them and edit them. In addition, Evernote has numerous add-ons, some of which are free as well.  Teresa highly recommended Evernote Clipper which allows you to clip and save web pages.  This feature is great since websites may change or pages may be removed.

If you decide to look into any of these apps and have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll be happy to assist. x7692 Karen Nichols