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VOLUME 15, NUMBER 1

JANUARY 2015

Determine What Students Know

Designing Effective Team Projects in Online Courses

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articipating in team projects offers students the chance to develop interpersonal communication skills (Figueira & Leal, 2013), build relationships with classmates, and increase the level of collective competencies as each group member brings something different to the group. However, in the online environment where the majority of the work occurs asynchronously, students may resist having to work with others (Smith et al., 2011) on graded assignments. Students often say that they do not like group work because they expect that they will have to contribute more than their teammates or that they will have difficulty scheduling times to meet with other group members. They also may be uneasy about being assigned an individual grade based on the work of the team. After teaching fully online courses for the past five years, I offer seven best practices for teamwork in online courses: Intentionally create teams. The best teams are formed when each member can bring something different to the group. Having three leaders may cause tension, as there would be no one willing to be led. At

By Rob Kelly

the same time, if there are no leaders present, it may be difficult for the group to form a vision for the project and get the work started. Get to know your online students and their preferences. This can come from a survey or preference inventory or through online discussion boards or other interactive course features. In a traditional class, you would see who the students are sitting next to and engaging with; do the same within the online class. Are there certain people who always respond to each other’s discussion board responses? Have you noticed that some people work at the same organization? Get to know your students as much as possible within the online course, and be very intentional in creating teams. Keep groups small and odd. Every student is very busy with professional and personal obligations, making scheduling to meet as a team difficult. One of the most attractive features of online courses for students is the ability to learn at times most convenient for the individual, without the requirement of being in class at certain times and days each week. The larger the teams, the more complicated

By Stephanie Smith Budhai, PhD

Tips from the Pros

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epending on your teaching situation, you may or may not have the authority to design or modify a course. If you didn’t design your course or have the permission to make changes, you still have the power to reiterate the lessons that you feel are most important or that students may not have understood the first time. Students enter online courses with various levels of knowledge, experience, needs, and expectations. It’s important to get a sense of what students already know in order to provide the appropriate levels of support and challenge. The discussion forum provides an excellent opportunity to gauge students’ knowledge levels. “If there’s a discussion question that’s very basic in week one of the course, I can interject some questions that jump ahead,” says Michelle Manganaro, who teaches online education and communications courses at several institutions, including Massasoit Community College. “Maybe some or all of

In This Issue

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How to Add the Human Element to Online Learning

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Using Blogs to Organize Student Presentations

Online Discussion Strategies That Create Community

Online Learning 2.0: Understanding Project-Based Learning

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DISCUSSION FORUM President: William Haight (whaight@magnapubs.com) Publisher: David Burns (dburns@magnapubs.com) Managing Editor: Rob Kelly (robkelly@magnapubs.com) ADVISORY BOARD Randy Accetta, PhD Mentor-in-Residence, Communication www.entrepreneurship.arizona.edu Toni Bellon, PhD Professor, Middle/Secondary Education North Georgia College & State University tbellon@northgeorgia.edu Jennifer E. Lerner, PhD Associate Vice President for e-Learning Northern Virginia Community College jlerner@nvcc.edu B. Jean Mandernach, PhD Professor & Senior Research Associate Grand Canyon University Jean.Mandernach@gcu.edu

Online Discussion Strategies That Create Community By Maryellen Weimer, PhD

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ne of the biggest complaints about online courses is that students feel disconnected. They don’t know the teacher or fellow students in the class. In online courses, teachers regularly use discussion to make connections with and between students. In a survey of over 350 faculty, 95 percent used it and 87 percent required student participation in online exchanges. The authors of the paper referenced below used a “Community of Inquiry” framework for their exploration-specific strategies that can be used to build community through discussion in online courses. “The purpose of this paper is to discuss specific strategies that have been proven through empirical research to support online CoIs [Communities of Inquiry].” (p. 155) They note that the literature on online discussion is voluminous, but to be included in their review, “the study had to have taken place in a fully online, higher education setting, utilized text-based asynchronous discussion, focused on the influence of a specific strategy, employed at least one direct research measure ... and been peer reviewed.” (p. 155) They retrieved 220 potential studies, but only 36 of them met their criteria. The Community of Inquiry model proposes three essential elements needed to make an educational experience successful: social presence, cognitive presence, and teacher presence. The authors explore the role of these elements and strategies that can be used online to support them.

and students is the loss of human touch in a fully online course.” (p. 155) How do instructors go about creating a positive and supportive environment when students are not physically connected? Based on their review of the literature, the authors recommend two strategies: instructor modeling of social presence and required and graded discussions. They suggest that online instructors be personal in their communications with students. They should use students’ names, express humor, and introduce personal stories that are relevant. Research does not establish that social presence causes learning. It’s something closer to creating a climate that makes learning more likely to occur. Students build interpersonal connections when they interact with each other, which is the justification for requiring participation in these exchanges. Research indicates that when those discussions count for between 10 and 20 percent of the student’s grade, the number of messages students post increases and their sense of classroom community is heightened. Interestingly, increasing the grade percentage to 25 to 35 percent garners no further benefits.

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John Orlando, PhD jorlando@gmail.com

Lawrence C. Ragan, PhD Director- Faculty Development World Campus Penn State University lcr1@psu.edu

Online Classroom (ISSN 1546-2625) is published monthly by Magna Publications Inc., 2718 Dryden Drive, Madison, WI 53704. Phone 800-433-0499; Fax: 608-2463597. Email: support@magnapubs.com. Website: www.magnapubs.com. One-year subscription: $197 (Multiple print subscriptions and Group Online Subscriptions are available. Call Customer Service at 800-433-0499.) Photocopying or other reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. POSTMASTER: Send change of address to Online Classroom, 2718 Dryden Drive, Madison, WI 53704. Copyright ©2015, Magna Publications Inc. Submissions to Online Classroom are welcome. Please review article submission guidelines located at www.magnapubs. com/catalog/online-classroom/

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Social Presence—“One comment often heard from online instructors

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Cognitive Presence—The problem that needs to be addressed here is the frequent failure of online discussions to go beyond idea exploration. “Students may be exchanging information and ideas, [but] they are rarely connecting and expanding on ideas, or applying new ideas to other contexts.” (p. 156) This can also be a problem in face-to-face discussions when students simply share their ideas without responding

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INSTRUCTOR PRESENCE How to Add the Human Element to Online Learning By Rob Kelly

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he online classroom can sometimes feel like a lonely place due to a lack of presence of the instructor and other students. This lack of presence can negatively affect learning and lead to student attrition. Fortunately, some relatively simple measures can significantly add the essential human element to online courses. In an interview with Online Classroom, Jennifer Merrill, instructional designer at Salisbury University, offered some design and facilitation recommendations for ensuring a sense of presence in online courses.

commented on it. When designing an online course, it’s also important to be aware of students’ expectations based on their other media experiences. “Think about what television, media, and the Internet are doing right now to capture the attention of people. I think we have to tap into that kind of thing by adding things such as short videos and small chunks of information. … It’s not entertainment, but I think the audience now feels like they have to have a certain amount of visual stuff going on. They’re geared toward finding whatever information they need right now. It has to be searchable. You have to think about what’s going to be eye-catching and not by just adding a little clip art. “They’re used to being able to click around a page and look at what they want to look at. So, maybe in the design process we don’t necessarily create learning modules that force them through steps. Maybe they can make choices about what they read and when, because adult learners need to be able to learn something that’s important to them right now.” Videos can create presence. These can range from a simple five-minute welcome video to lecture capture. A message with a link to an appropriate YouTube or Khan Academy video can add presence without any need for you to create the videos yourself. Using narrated PowerPoint presentations is another relatively simple way to convey presence.

Participate in the discussion board once a week to let students know that you are there, being careful not to drive the conversation but rather to provide feedback and perhaps ask questions. • Email—Send individual students emails to compliment them and comment on their work. • VoiceThread—One of the options when using VoiceThread is to create a second icon for the instructor called “feedback,” which indicates the type of message contained in the recording. This can be an effective way to indicate to students at a glance the number of times the instructor has provided feedback. • Announcements—When you find relevant resources, provide a link in the announcements section of the course. This is a clear indication that the instructor is active in the course. • Polls and surveys—Feedback does not have to be one way. Adding polls and surveys (about the learning experience and/or the content) can add a human element to the course. “I recommend checking in with students [with a poll or survey] once or twice a semester, asking them where they want to take the course. That makes it more personal,” Merrill says. • Take note of students’ interests and experiences—Use an icebreaker activity to gather student information that will be useful later in the course. What are your students’ work experiences? What knowledge do they have in their portfolios that you can tap into? One way to use this knowledge is to have students lead discussions on topics within their areas of expertise. “It makes it more personal and values their experience,” Merrill says. @

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Design considerations

When working with instructors to design an online course, Merrill often begins by asking, “How would you design this course for face-to-face delivery” and “What kinds of things might be missing if the course is to be taught online?” Asking questions like these can help keep presence in mind during design. For example, if group work is an essential part of a face-to-face course, it should also be part of the design of the online course. And perhaps this could be supported by the use of synchronous tools or audio tools to provide opportunities for interaction that offers the nuances and presence of the face-toface classroom. Merrill worked with a nursing instructor to create an activity that used VoiceThread (voicethread. com), a cloud-based application that enables users to record and embed audio comments to facilitate a conversation similar to one that would take place face-to-face. In this instance, a student began by posting a VoiceThread message that offered a diagnosis and treatment plan, and other students added to it and

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Feedback Feedback is an essential way to convey presence. You can offer feedback in many different ways. Here are some that Merrill recommends: • Discussion board messages—

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ONLINE LEARNING 2.0 Understanding Project-Based Learning By John Orlando, PhD

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n his wonderful TED talk (www. ted.com/talks/dan_meyer_math_ curriculum_makeover), Dan Meyer describes how he began one of his math classes by showing students a video of a hose slowly filling a bucket with water. After a while of watching the video, one of the students blurted out “When is this going to end?” at which point Meyer asked the students how they would determine when it would end. The students started listing what they needed to solve the problem, such as flow rate, dimensions of the container, how to determine the volume of a cylinder, etc., and then worked to find the solution. Meyer’s point is that we teach math the wrong way by giving students problems that already contain the relevant information. In the real world, one of the biggest steps in solving a problem is determining which information is relevant from all the information we are given. Here’s a perfect example of the theory and practice behind project-based learning. Project-based learning is a hot topic in education, but most faculty do not understand how to incorporate it into their teaching. The principle is simple: Students learn best when they learn in the process of working toward a goal. Unfortunately, the value of project-based learning is often expressed in vague platitudes about “student-centered learning” or “knowledge creation.” In reality, the main value of project-based learning is that it teaches students to ask the right questions. Traditional assignments predefine the information that the students will use. Project-based learning puts students into the position of having to determine what

information they need by asking the right questions. Plus, projects are driven by curiosity, and there is a considerable increase in motivation and retention (http://jjsquared640. blogspot.com/2014/10/curiositykilled-cat-but-not-student.html) when learning is initiated by curiosity. Nobody is curious about the answer to the math equation he or she is given. Meyer instead created a situation where they first asked the question. Now they are invested in the problem and the answer.

tion within context of a goal (Gee, 2003; Kiang, 2014). Projects have these same characteristics. But whereas faculty are often stymied on how to use gamification principles in their teaching because it requires an enormous time commitment to develop complex simulations with multiple paths, projects solve this problem because the real world effectively provides the conditions of the game. The multiple paths, information, successes, and failures are all provided by the world as students develop their projects. For instance, I teach a medical ethics class, and one project I use involves having students develop educational content for others. In one case a group of students created a guide for expectant parents on prenatal genetic testing. These students needed to determine what to put into that guide, meaning that they needed to ask about the major ethical issues in genetic testing as well as common practice. But they also needed to ask about the thinking of expectant parents. What are the parents’ concerns, fears, understanding, etc.? This will inform how the information needs to be presented. As future medical professionals, they benefit from stepping outside their normal role of caregiver into that of the patient. Most of their medical education is on the facts of health, and so this project gets them thinking about how health care looks to the patient. Another project came to me while I was sitting on the medical ethics board at the local hospital. One day, the leader of the board learned that the doctors in the hospital did not know the legal definition of death or how to test for it. That led this normally calm man to pound his

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Project-based learning puts students into the position of having to determine what information they need by asking the right questions.

The online environment proves yet another benefit in that it allows for the possibility of creating public results, such as a blog or Wikipedia article. You can also create a class wiki to host the projects. Students are far more invested in work that will be seen by many others than they are in the traditional assignment that is seen by nobody other than the teacher. Finally, project-based learning constitutes a kind of gamification of learning, and thus has the same benefits that are driving the gamification of education movement. Games allow for short-term failure on the way to a goal without long-term cost, multiple paths to success, and just-in-time informa-

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<< From Page 4 fist on the table and proclaim to the other doctors, “That’s not right. You people are declaring patients dead who aren’t dead.” Talk about a stony silence. This gave me the idea of having students create a guide for doctors on how to determine death. (Did you know that one of the critical tests to determining legal death is squirting cold water into the patent’s ear to see if the eyes jiggle?) Again, they had to start by asking the right questions about what death is and how to test for it, what the majority of doctors currently think and are doing, and how best to communicate the right information to them so that it will influence medical practice. Finally, the students in this class are normally preparing to sit on the types of medical ethics boards that I describe above and make life and death decisions about patients. So I simulated that experience as much as possible through case studies. I put them into groups and have them imagine they are the care team for a patient in an end-of-life condition. I provide the broad outlines of the case and ask them to come up with a judgment about what to do. Since real ethics consultations always involve a period of exploration in which the participants try to gather more information, the students begin by asking me any questions about the case that seem pertinent but are left out of the write-up. This can be done with a chat system such as TodaysMeet (https://todaysmeet.com). Students send me messages asking for further information, such as whether the patient has a relative who can speak for him or her. I have

a list of information I will use to answer questions. If the information is not on the list, I tell them that it is “unknown,” which is often the case in real-life situations. Their project is to come to a group decision about what to do. I even have a few curveballs drawn from experience that I throw at them, such as one case where opposing parties suddenly switched positions when they were told of the care team’s decision. I can see something similar in, say, an engineering class, where a team is told that the client has suddenly changed its requirements in the middle of the project. Another good project I learned about involved the students designing a Civil War memorial (www.ascd.org/ascd-express/ vol10/1004-schopf.aspx). This required them to ask questions such as, “Where will we put it— Gettysburg, Atlanta, Appomattox— and why?” They also needed to determine what to say on it. Should it honor the glorious leaders, the sacrifices of the soldiers, the victory of the North, or the hardships of the South? If you can’t think of any projects of your own, try asking your students a question such as, “What can we build, real or hypothetical, to help others understand the class content?” You can also survey the hundreds of examples found at the Buck Institute for Education (http://bie.org/project_search/ results/search&channel=project_ search/) to stimulate your thinking on what is possible. Consider how your teaching can be transformed by project-based learning. You will be surprised by the results.

References Gee, J. (2003). What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Literacy and Learning. AMC Computers in Entertainment, v. 1, n. 1. Jenkins, J. (2014). Curiosity Killed the Cat But Not the Student. J. Jenkin’s Teaching Thoughts blog. Kiang, D. (2014). Using Gaming Principles to Engage Students. Edutopia, October 14, 2014. Meyer, D. (2010). Math Class Needs a Makeover. TEDxNYED. Schopf, L. (2014). Messing Learning, Clear Objectives. ASCD Express, v. 10, i. 4.

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John Orlando writes, consults, and teaches faculty how to use technology to improve learning. He helped build and direct distance learning programs at the University of Vermont and Norwich University, and has written more than 50 articles and delivered more than 60 workshops on teaching with technology. John is the associate director of the Center for Faculty Excellence at Northcentral University, serves on the Online Classroom editorial advisory board, and is a regular contributor to Online Classroom. @

Call for Submissions Online Classroom accepts article submissions. Submission guidelines are available at www.magnapubs.com/newsletter/ submit-an-article/online-classroom. html. If you have questions, contact editor Rob Kelly at robkelly@magnapubs.com.

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COVER << From Page 1 scheduling can be. Teams, particularly in online courses where there are no regularly scheduled meetings, should be capped at approximately three students. Having an odd number also eliminates the potential of groups being split when forced to make a decision. I encourage teams to come to a unanimous decision, but this may not always be possible. Having an odd number guarantees that there will always be a majority in the event of a team vote. There will be times when, because of the overall number of students in the class, one group may need to consist of more than three students, but in general, a team of three is more manageable and conducive to best practices in online teamwork. Set clear expectations for individual contributions. Most assignments have general directions with a rubric explaining how the final product will be assessed. For team projects, it is imperative to go beyond this and identify individual contributions and expectations for each team member. A jigsaw approach could be employed in which the instructor divides the project into equal parts for each group member so all members know exactly what they are expected to do. If the instructor wants each team member to contribute something to the entire project, those expectations should be laid out with a framework to help facilitate that dissemination process. Create a virtual group space. All learning management systems (LMS) have tools and applications that serve teamwork well. Instructors should create a private virtual space for each team where they can connect with one another and share ideas. At a minimum, the shared virtual team space should include a discussion board, a file sharing area, and a space for live, real-time sessions or chat. Instructors should

provide an overview of each feature of the virtual shared space and make suggestions for how it should be used. While this may seem intuitive for instructors, some students may not know how to best leverage the space or use the individual features. This can lead to underutilization of the shared virtual space and a less efficient process during the team project. Be sure that all students know how to access and use the virtual team space to support the teamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work. Monitor online group space. Do not wait for students to email you when issues arise. Make it known that you will be â&#x20AC;&#x153;presentâ&#x20AC;? within the virtual space, and consistently offer advice and feedback as the team progresses through the project. It is important to do this in a manner that is not overly intrusive. You are simply guiding the process and making adjustments as needed if the group requires individualized support. This is also helpful for teams who are not able to transparently navigate the process and communicate their needs. Monitoring of the online group space also builds faculty presence within the online course and presents another opportunity to engage with students virtually. Develop a peer feedback system. The ability to provide and accept constructive feedback is part of being an adult. While this can be difficult and uncomfortable, it is an important part of the team project experience. In online courses especially, develop a template for peer feedback and share it with students prior to the project. The constructs on the template can be based on key interpersonal skills that you are expecting students to exhibit throughout the team project. Peer evaluations benefit students who make contributions (Dingel & Wei, 2014), and can help address students who do not fully participate

in the collaborative experience. The knowledge that they will be evaluated by peers can motivate students to work more collaboratively with their team members. Assign individual and team grades. It is important to assign both individual and team grades for the team assignments. Students should be assessed on the individual contributions they made as well as on how well they participate in the team components. Assigning individual grades requires a clear expectation for individual contributions and progress monitoring throughout the project. Assigning individual grades increases individual accountability and can make for a more positive collaborative experience. Instead of eliminating effective pedagogical techniques present in traditional courses, such as team projects, online instructors must leverage technologies and best practices to include equal learning opportunities for students in online courses.

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References

Dingel, M., & Wei, W. (2014). Influences on peer evaluation in a group project: an exploration of leadership, demographics and course performance. Assessment & Evaluation In Higher Education, 39(6), 729-742. Figueira, A., & Leal, H. (2013). An Online Tool to Manage and Assess Collaborative Group Work. Proceedings of The International Conference on E-Learning, 112-120. Smith, G. G., Sorensen, C., Gump, A., Heindel, A. J., Caris, M., & Martinez, C. D. (2011). Overcoming student resistance to group work: Online versus face-to-face. Internet & Higher Education, 14(2), 121-128. Stephanie Smith Budhai is an assistant professor of education at Neumann University. Contact her at budhais@neumann.edu. @

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<< From Page 2 to the contributions of others. The authors cite research documenting that prompts teachers use to promote online interaction play an important role. “Discussion prompts that inherently guide students to progress through the phases of cognitive presence were more successful in eliciting integration and resolution.” (p. 157) The cognitive phases referenced here include identification of an issue, the exchange of ideas and information about it, the connection of those ideas, and their application to new ideas. “Select a discussion prompt that encourages structured interaction and critical thinking, while also supporting the specific learning objectives.” (p. 161) The prompts are important, and so are the facilitation methods used. “We argue it is not the mere presence of a facilitator that is effective, but rather the techniques employed.” (p. 158) For example, they recommend that teachers sometimes take a “challenging stance” by asking students to defend their positions or by highlighting different viewpoints and asking for responses to those.

do not lead to increases in student interaction. In fact, the research reveals that modest instructor feedback encourages students to take more ownership of the discussion, which increases the number of student-to-student exchanges. They also recommend the use of peer facilitators. Students may feel more comfortable in discussions led by peers. Peer discussion leaders post more messages than do teachers, research has shown. The authors point out that peer facilitators will likely need development, including specific instruction on what techniques they should use. Sometimes it helps to assign students facilitator roles such as discussion starter (the role of launching the discussion) and wrapper (the role of summarizing an exchange). Research also shows positive benefits of what the authors describe as “protocol prompts,” which are “a structured method of having discussions by establishing a well-defined goal, clear roles, rules for interactions, and specific deadlines for posting.” (p. 160) Teachers might also want to consider creating teaching presence by providing audio or video feedback. Software (some of it free) makes it possible for teachers to verbally comment on a discussion exchange and post that feedback on a discussion board or send it via email. Students then get to hear the instructor, and additional messages are conveyed by tone of voice. This is a helpful piece of scholarship. It tackles some of the challenges presented by online environments, suggesting researchtested strategies that have been shown to improve discussions and increase the sense of community in online courses.

through online asynchronous discussions. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 10 (1), 153-165. Maryellen Weimer is the editor of The Teaching Professor. @

Tips from the Pros << From Page 1 the students already know a lot of things coming up. It helps me benchmark what my other questions will be for the rest of the course. If they already know a lot of the terms, then maybe I can make the conversations more interesting and jump into scenarios that apply the material,” Manganaro says. More knowledgeable students may tend to answer questions promptly and thoroughly in the discussion board, leaving the others to think they have nothing to add. Rather than jumping ahead, Manganaro recommends backtracking, asking the knowledgeable student(s) to elaborate, provide examples, and simplify concepts. Even though some students may have more knowledge on a topic, each student brings individual experiences that can add to the conversation. Manganaro requires students to relate the discussion board topic to current events or personal experiences. In addition to improving the quality of participation, this technique also makes the content more relevant to the individual. Before moving on to the next unit, Manganaro mentions the previous unit and gets benchmark assessments to ensure that students understand the content being covered. @

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Teaching Presence—Here one of the issues is the amount of time teacher facilitation of online discussions can take. If teachers are providing feedback to individual students and actively participating in the discussion, the time investment can be huge. And there’s the ongoing question of how much instructors should participate in online discussions. Research documents that teacher presence is the “backbone” (p. 159) of creating community, which makes these important issues. Among the authors’ recommendations is the provision of “prompt but modest instructor feedback.” (p. 159) Multiple interventions by the instructor in online discussions

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Reference: deNoyelles, A., Zydney, J. M., and Chen, B. (2014). Strategies for creating a community of inquiry

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BLOGS Using Blogs to Organize Student Presentations By Julia VanderMolen, PhD

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rganizing and writing ideas and building presentations can be a taxing and complicated process for students. Writing requires multitasking. When some of these tasks are challenging, they can become overwhelming and can often disrupt the creative flow of ideas. One way to help students focus is to have them blog each writing task. Blogs can be described as “simple content management tools enabling nonexperts to build easily updatable Web diaries or online journals” that are “networked between several users who post thoughts that often focus upon a common theme” (Olofsson, 2011). Blogs provide a number of benefits to student learning. Blogs help students develop and improve fluency and thinking. They allow students to discover new ideas and relationships between concepts and help them generate and organize their thought processes and information. They can also help students track the progress of a project. By having students post daily progress reports and resources to specific tasks, students are able to keep up with the progress of particular project elements that are relevant to them. Students are encouraged to dialog with one another and provide peer evaluation throughout the progress of a project. The challenge is figuring out how to establish the direction for students.

online behavior such as the types of personal information that is appropriate to share and what makes a good post or comment. It is best to lead students in discussions about these important concepts and have them submit, propose, or recommend the guidelines themselves. Mapping out potential questions for a blog can provide a framework or guide for students in the development of an online presentation. Here are some suggestions on how to implement blogs for mapping out an online presentation. Provide students with a series of blog questions. Typically, I provide students with five questions. The first blog addresses the topic of interest related to the course content, and students collaborate and write a paragraph on the topic. This essentially becomes the abstract of the project or presentation. Students are encouraged to provide peer feedback on the abstract. The second blog has the student locate professional resources pertaining to the topic. Each student in the group provides one professional resource and writes one paragraph pertaining to the resource. The third blog requires students to look up statistics pertinent to the topic. The fourth blog addresses the use of library databases providing peer-reviewed journal articles. The fifth blog requires students to locate three relevant and current videos pertaining to the topic. A blog is one way to measure what students are completing and what they are learning. After I implemented this method, students indicated that it was helpful and allowed for greater organization, collaboration, and dialog with one another. Students also indicated that using blogs to organize a group presentation helped them allocate the work equally.

Finally, if you are not using a learning management system, here are some other tools to explore: Popplet (popplet.com): this online tool features a mindmapping tool and allows students to share and collaborate. Students and instructors can create up to five Popplets. Wordpress (https://wordpress. org): this tool is a popular blogging service used both in and beyond education. Blogger (Google’s service, www. blogger.com): This tool is worth introducing to students who are likely to spend their lives working with Google’s products. Edmodo (www.edmodo.com): a social media platform often described as Facebook for education.

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Guidelines and expectations An important part of using an online tool with your students is educating them on appropriate online behavior. In many cases, it is ideal to develop these guidelines and expectations together with your students. A blog provides an excellent opportunity to educate students on proper

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References

Curriculum Corner - Using Blogs With Students. (2014, January 1). Edublogs. Retrieved June 5, 2014, from http://edublogs.org/curriculum-corner-using-a-blog-withstudents/. Olofsson, A. D., Lindberg, O. J., & Hauge, T. E. (2011). Blogs and the design of reflective peer-to-peer technology-enhanced learning and formative assessment. CampusWide Information Systems, 28(3), 183-194. Retrieved from http:// search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu. edu/docview/881451912?accou ntid=39473. West, D. M. (2012). How blogs, social media, and video games improve education. Brookings Institution. 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036. Retrieved from http:// search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu. edu/docview/1018478734?accou ntid=39473. Julia VanderMolen is an assistant professor of allied health sciences at Grand Valley State University.@

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