Project in detail - Sam Ozay
Learning Design: Blending Online Discussion into curricula ...return to abstract
Online asynchronous discussion forums are widely used in higher education to engage students in discursive communication, collaboration, and reflection. It has been adopted as a practical tool for extending the learning environment beyond the classroom in which a continuum of learning is sustainable.
The design of Web2.0 tools is socially oriented, which makes them a natural selection for blending with face-to-face learning environments. In order to achieve the duty of scholarship in today’s higher education, online collaborative spaces such as discussion forums must be designed in a way that is aligned to meet the intended learning outcomes. Also, the effective use of online discussion as an assessment tool requires a blended approach to the development of curricula. That is to say, it must be integrated into course curriculum as a formal assessment activity and appropriate instructions and guidelines need to be communicated to students.
Current use of online discussion as an assessment tool is somewhat constrained by uncertainty of the relationship between its design and its pedagogical counterpart. An observation into current practices in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences reveals that many course providers are using online discussion in their Unit of Study (UoS) as an assessment tool by which students are required to make a number of posts to discussion boards related to the subject matter. The framework for the assessment of online discussion depends on whether it is being assessed as a learning activity, participation requirement, or both.
There are clear indications that the implementation of the technology is currently situated within the analogy made by (Salmon, 2005) regarding ‘flapping’ versus ‘flying’. Teachers are using online discussion for common purposes, but there is widespread uncertainty about, interalia, how it can be assessed or integrated into course curricula. Therefore, it is mostly used as an add-on or annexe rather than an integral component of the course. Some UoS fail to provide sufficient guidelines in course outlines regarding the use of online discussion and how it fits into the scheme of the course assessment. For others, forums can be merely a record of attendance. Whereas, the discussion forum needs to be seen as “an integral part of the course, neither optional nor extra credit.” (Greenlaw & DeLoach, 2003, p. 42). It is how you integrate everything that contributes to the goal. (Rosenberg, 2001).
To this rationale, the purpose of this study is to identify the key elements of blending online discussion into curricula as a pedagogically sound assessment tool. The study will focus on aspects of learning design rather than the aesthetic design of online discussion. How to integrate the activity into curricula as an assessable component and how it is designed to allow students to achieve the learning objectives will be the main considerations. The overall aim is to provide a guide to using online discussion for learning in higher education
- Review the literature to find evidence of best practices in the use of online discussion.
- Provide evidence of working models and show it’s grounding in educational theory.
- Expose the particular design considerations that can affect learning outcomes.
- Identify the key elements of blending online discussion into curricula by showing examples of best practices that are grounded in theory.
- Provide an overview of current practices in the faculty and select a number of UoS that use online discussion as an assessment tool.
At least four UoS from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences that use online discussion as an assessment tool will be required as case studies. At the beginning of semester two, the respective course coordinators will be interviewed to obtain information on their approach to online discussion, their expectations regarding learning outcomes, and how they mean to facilitate the process.
A brief survey will be given to the students at the end of semester to elicit their perceived experience.
Write up paper. Include analyses of USE data using NVivo software to identify general levels of student satisfaction.
Greenlaw, S. A., & DeLoach, S. B. (2003). Teaching Critical Thinking with Electronic Discussion. The Journal of Economic Education, 34(1), 36-52.
Rosenberg, M. J. (2001). E-LEARNING: Strategies for Delivering Knowledge in the Digital Age. United States: McGraw Hill.
Salmon, G. (2005). Flying not flapping: a strategic framework for e-learning and pedagogical innovation in higher education institutions. ALT-J, 13(3), 201-218.