There are many approaches to developing inclusive discussion which motivates students to participate and share learning, but the one I have found to work best I learned from the University of Phoenix. It is called ABC Facilitation.
A = Acknowledge
B = Build
C = Conclude
So, what does this mean and how does it work?
“A“ means to acknowledge what the students has posted. In my discussions, I post a starter to the discussion to which students must respond by Wednesday after which they must participate in the ongoing discussion with other students. As discussed in Blog #1, the online student is sitting in front of a computer wondering if anyone has even read the post and perhaps thinking that if no one responds it is because his or her post was not valued. I make sure all students get a response by posting in each thread. I may talk about what the individual student posted OR if there are responses will summarize the ongoing discussion relating it to my post and/or concepts being learned. This assures that the student knows his or her contribution to the discussion has been read and is valued.
“B” means to build on what was acknowledged. This is where I offer additional support with my comments and perhaps by sharing additional resources OR where I very carefully counter what has been said if it illustrates a lack of understanding of a concept. It is very important to not directly tell a student he or she is wrong as when doing so in a written format it is there for all to see forever and it can quickly shut down the students who will then feel uncomfortable responding. To counter I may offer resources that correctly illustrate the concept to help the student learn and give further explanation carefully avoiding the “you are wrong” approach.
“C” is where I conclude by ending with an open-ended question which may be as simple as “what do you think” about the comments I added in the “B” section or perhaps Socratic questioning which works well online.
I have used this method for quite some time now and find it very effective at motivating students and encouraging active participation.
There are other methods though that work well. What method do you use?