Discussion again? Yeahhhh because discussion is what adds a human element to our online courses and makes them real. Without communication, why would students even need us? They could just complete a bunch of self-taught modules and click send to submit their own grades to the registrar. We teach to communicate knowledge to students and to allow students to communicate their own learning and knowledge to us and to other students. Having said that, it is important to assure that online discussion maintains an academic quality thus many/most of us assess it.
Students do not come to us knowing how to do an academic discussion. They usually need guidelines with clear expectations and the use of rubrics helps students to meet expectations and faculty to assess the discussion. There is a brief article from the Pedagogical Repository at UCF that talks about this and shares some sample rubrics (see https://topr.online.ucf.edu/index.php/Discussion_Rubrics) and our own suggestions for good discussion at http://cotecommunity.open.suny.edu/page/online-discussion.
It is important to remember that each class is different when setting expectations. In my Global Issues class students use the ABC method described in blog 2 and must cite sources they use when responding to my posts which explore issues often debated. Other disciplines will have other formats that work better. Often trial and error is the best method to determine what works best for students and we all have those “oops, that didn’t work so well” times when we have to regroup and try it again.
So, what is in your rubric? In my rubric I address:
Helping students to understand what you want to see in discussions is important and using a rubric clarifies the expectations and helps students to achieve success in the discussions. I am totally impressed and often amazed by the quality of discussion my students offer in the online classroom and can honestly say the discussions are of a quality that would occur between colleagues.
I have shared mine; now what about you. Everyone has methods to share that might benefit other faculty members. How do you assure and assess discussion in your classes?