I recently ran across a couple of great articles regarding discussions. The first, from Faculty Focus, concentrates on face-to-face courses but can easily be translated into the online course. It is “Five Reasons Getting Students to Talk is Worth the Effort“. The 5 reasons given are:
- Students learn content when they talk about it.
- Talking lets students learn from each other.
- Talking gives students the opportunity to practice using the language of the discipline.
- Talking connects student with the content.
- Talking connects students with each other.
I strongly recommend reading the entire article.
The other article, from Online Learning Insights, deals with a different issue in discussions, “How to get students to participate in Online Discussions…” It has some really great insight on how the course design plays into the student involvement.
ANGEL Tip – This tip probably comes a little late for those of you teaching this summer (sorry about that) but hopefully it is something that can help you in the future. In the Gradebook of ANGEL there is a setting which can change all assignments that have no grades to zeros. While this is typically not something you want to switch on for the entire semester (it tends to make the students nervous to be failing most of the semester) it does come in handy on that last day after everything has been graded so you don’t have to manually go through and zero assignments that weren’t turned in. To turn on this option, do the following:
- Go to the Manage tab
- Click the Gradebook link (first column, first link)
- Click the Preferences link (first column, middle)
- Check the first check box, which should read “Treat Ungraded Items as Zero”
- Click the Save button
Note: If you copy the course from semester to semester, after you copy it to the new semester, check to make sure this setting is turned back off.