Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Collaboration in a Virtual World Pt. 2

"Intimidated student" - had student write up question and send to instructor first before posting.
- Sometimes students just need some separate encouragement.

Stimulating Good Discussion
- Invite real-world examples from students lives
- Use discussion questions as jumping off point.
- Ask expansive/exploratory questions
- Use discussion as a way to help students apply what learning.

Application makes learning experience a lot more relevant.

Debates on discussion board
- Can be done collaboratively. 2 people, groups, choose a person and discuss.
- Can be lively and fun
- Push students to research a position thoroughly to present argument. Helps develop critical thinking skills.
- Should be controversial enough to encourage argument but not so controversial as to promote flaming.

Setting up a debate
- If doing prepared debate, will set up private discussion area for each group. Main discussion board, post the position.

Case Studies
- Promote decision-making and analytic skills
- Process of arriving at the response is more important than the response itself
- Can be instructor-generated or student-generated.
+ Having adults bring in case material a good way to go.
+ Resistance to change - each student responsible for bringing in case (doesn't matter whether worked or not). Other students act as consultants.

Strategies for breaking through the need for "right answer".
- Still gotta have them debrief.
- Usually someone (maybe instructor) has to point out the value of the discussion.
- What are the takeaways?

Collaborative and Small Group work
- Can begin in dyads and move into groups - Help break down some of the resistance to "group projects."
+ 2 students working together less problematic to start. Then start putting together the pairs.
- Help to reduce information overload through sharing of material and workload over a group of students - sell this to students. You individually are not responsible for the whole.
- Allows for deeper engagement with a topic

Fishbowls
- Roleplay. Others critique after the roleplay.
- Create a practice forum for skills within a safe container.
+ Group of students into the bowl (discussion board). Everyone else observes and not participate.
+ Key - keeping rest of class quiet. No feedback until discussion over. (View only permission for those not in the fishbowl)
+ Students find harder to be quiet than to be in the bowl.
- Good way to do skill-base training.
- Allow students to go deeper into topic.
- Promotes reflection and observation.
- Promotes feedback skills - Feedback folks give both content and social feedback. Plus observe what learned as a result of watching the folks in the fishbowl.
- Also encouraging journals while observing. How is the student reacting to the experience?
- Best for complex problem-solving type of task.

How do you assess that they retained the guts of the content?
- Develop a form of authentic assessment that demonstrates to you that they "got it."
- Assessment project that shows application.
- Ex. Organizational Mgmt - a case study with multiple roles. Person needs to take 3 of those roles and assume those roles separately and evaluate the study. How did those roles differ.
- Had to go around the "proctored final exam" requirement. Had the dean take it. And the students actually measured using real application.
- Looking at the thought process. It is a qualitative assessment. There are key concepts that have to be demonstrated.
- Also using rubric so that student can see what the expectation is across the spectrum. Student does self-measurement against the rubric.
- In addition to final exam - also a self-assessment of how the STUDENT thought they did.
- Also have them mark up the rubric. The rubric is a place to talk.
- Individual application activity
- The rubric objectifies what is a subjective evaluation.
- The tough part - constructing the rubric.
- Tools available (one example).
- Also see that rubrics also gives the professors more argument if the student complains about the grade. Gotta give them to the student though.

Simulations and Role Plays
- Hypothetical situations that learners may encounter in life.
- Assist with application of concepts
- Promote critical thinking skills by encouraging learners to take a position and reflect on the outcome of a situation.
- Can throw in monkey wrenches during the process to keep them thinking.

Blogs
- Promote the sharing of free-flowing ideas and brainstorms
- Can be used to capture student reflections as the course progresses
- Commentary encouraged. Comment on instructor and each others blogs.
- One Instructor blog approach - take topic discussed and pull out real world situations. Connect real world to content

Jigsaw Activities
- Promotes teamwork and interdependence through contributions of each member
- The whole is greater than the sum of its parts
- Help to expand exploration of the content by asking learners to become expert on a topic and teach each other.

WebQuests
- A scavenger hunt for information

Rotated facilitation
- Empowers students to take on the responsibility of leading discussions
- Promotes good questioning techniques
- Pushes students to prepare material to share with others and deepens knowledge acqusition

Guidelines for Collaboration
- Set the Stage - why is it important that we do that? Relate to the content.
- Create the Environment - setting up the space in the CMS so the collaboration can happen.
- Model the Process
- Guide the Participants
- Evaluate the Process - use student feedback to reconstruct the process.

May not want to put people in groups too early. Watch the class and put together.
- Maybe bios in advance?

Evaluating Collaborative Activities
- Group grading
- Group members evaluate themselves and each group member
- Group members evaluate the process
- Veto power with the instructor - make sure feedback matches the process.

Gotta give folks a reason to go to the site. If you don't have a hook - won't do it.
- Anytime someone posts something, should have email generated so know something to respond to.
- Make sure moderate really well - generating interesting things for people to respond to.

Collaborative activity should be designed with
- Clear guidelines and objectives
- Tasks and assignments need to be relevant to subject matter and student lives/job
- Students understand expectations
- Assessment in alignment with course as a whole. If all in alignment, everyone happy.

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