According to the sociocultural theory by Vygotsky, socially meaningful activities, i.e. meaningful interactions with others in the environment, stimulate developmental processes and foster cognitive growth. This is what makes the creation of learning communities where members feel connected to and assist each other in their efforts to learn an important goal of education. In a distance learning environment, learning communities are primarily created and sustained through online discussions.
Success of online discussions is largely dependent on the effectiveness of their design. However, in this week’s Learning Resource (Chapter 9 of E-Learning by Design), William Horton (2007) emphasizes that even the best of designs do not guarantee success of online discussion as a learning activity. Much depends on the moderator’s/facilitator’s skills and attitude (the terms ‘moderator’ and ‘facilitator’ are used interchangeably in educational literature).
As a distant student, you have contributed to a variety of moderated asynchronous discussions. For this week’s discussion, you will reflect on what you learned about effective moderation from this week’s Learning Resource to evaluate ineffective moderation practices and to suggest ways for improvement.
Begin by reflecting on your experience as an online discussion participant and identifying a case when the discussion that you participated in was not very successful due to ineffective moderation. Next, consider the following questions:
- Given what you have learned this week about effective moderation, why do you think the moderation example you selected was not effective?
- How would you suggest the moderation could be improved to make the discussion experience more beneficial for the learners?
Post a brief overview of the ineffective moderation of a discussion that you participated in (for privacy considerations, please, do not reveal the moderator’s identify). Drawing on this week’s Learning Resource, explain why you think the moderator’s behavior on the discussion board failed to enhance the online discussion as a meaningful learning experience and suggest 2 ways in which the moderator could have made the an online discussion more meaningful and engaging.
(The minimum acceptable length of the initial post is 200 words).
Read through several of your classmates’ posts and respond to at least two of the posts in any of the following ways:
- Expand on an idea expressed by the author of the post.
- Share an insight relevant to the experience described by the author of the post.
- Ask a probing or clarifying question.
- Explain why and how you see things differently.
(The minimum acceptable response length is 80 words).
For more information on efficient moderation/facilitation of online asynchronous discussions, please, consult the Additional Resources or search the web for other credible resources.
Durrington, V., Berryhill, A., & Swafford, J. (2006). Strategies for enhancing student interactivity in an online environment. College Teaching, 54(1), 190–193. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Vance_Durrington/publication/242284166_Strategies_for_Enhancing_Student_Interactivity_in_an_Online_Environment/links/02e7e5294dfc208db0000000.pdf.
Rovai, A.P. (2007). Facilitating online discussions effectively. Internet and Higher Education, 10, 77-88. Retrieved from http://www.itma.vt.edu/modules/spring11/efund/lesson7/Rovai2007FacilitatingEffectiveOnlineDiscussions.pdf.
USC Center for Excellence in Teaching. (n.d.). Facilitating discussions. Retrieved from http://cet.usc.edu/resources/ta_resources/discussions/index.html.
Your initial post and response(s) to your classmates will be graded against the discussion rubric to be accessed through the following link:
NOTE: The learner who contributes neither an initial discussion post nor any responses to the other participants is not graded.