about the types of discussions, questions, and group assignments you
use in your face-to-face courses. Chances are there is a way to do something
similar online. Here are some suggestions for online communications
Students introduce themselves and provide some biographical information
in an informal discussion area. Ask users not to use a formal biography
(such as might appear in their organizations website), but instead
to write a few sentences about themselves.
Assignment 1: One or more students post the URL of a Web site about
the course topic in the discussion forum. They should describe HOW they
found the site and why they think it is a good one. The remaining students
visit the site and post comments or questions about it in the discussion
Web Assignment 2: The instructor posts one or more URLs of Web
sites and a list of questions about those Web sites. Students find the
answers to the questions on the sites and post the answers and how they
found them in the discussion forum.
Seminar: One student or a group of students writes a critical
review about a given reading assignment and posts it to the discussion.
The remaining students post one question or comment about the critical
review (based on what they have read in the readings). Require one or
more additional posts in response to the questions or comments.
Assignment Discussion: The instructor posts model answers to homework
assignments. Students then self assess and discuss the assignment among
themselves with the professor moderating.
Assignment Discussion: Assign a student or group of students the
role of explaining the answers to a homework assignment. This would
be more appropriate in cases where there is no "right" answer.
Otherwise, it must be ascertained that the student assigned to explain
the answer has the right one.
Students post the best and the worst (or least clear) thing about a
lecture or other learning activity.
Lecture: Students post the three most important points from an online,
face-to-face, or VTC lecture.
Discussion: If yours is a face-to-face (or VTC) class with a discussion
forum for support, ask students to continue classroom discussions in
the forum. Initiate the discussion with a Status Summary and provocative
question or remark...or assign a student to do this.
Lecturer: Invite a guest lecturer to participate in an online discussion
about his area of expertise. Post an article or lecture by the guest
lecturer ahead of time and ask students to read it and post a comment
or question. The guest responds to the comments and questions for an
agreed upon time frame.
Robin Paper/Discussion: Start a paper or discussion on a specific
topic with a provocative comment or question (or ask a student or group
of students to do this). Students, in turn, add their comments or questions
to the paper. This approach can also be used to write an analysis of
a piece of poetry or prose (or to write a piece of poetry or prose).
Synchronous Chat: Add synchronous chat to your course and encourage
students to launch it whenever they are online. Choose one of the rooms
(if the chat software has more than one) and inform students which one
it is. Once they enter the room, they can turn on the "entry chime"
then minimize the room and go back to other parts of the course. If
anyone enters the room while they are online, they will hear the chime
and can have a chat. You, as the instructor, can also keep online office
hours the same way.