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Using CMC: Ideas for CMC Events


Think 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 activities.

Introductions: 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 organization’s website), but instead to write a few sentences about themselves.

Web 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 forum.

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.

Homework Assignment Discussion: The instructor posts model answers to homework assignments. Students then self assess and discuss the assignment among themselves with the professor moderating.

Homework 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.

Postcards: Students post the best and the worst (or least clear) thing about a lecture or other learning activity.

Feedback Lecture: Students post the three most important points from an online, face-to-face, or VTC lecture.

Extended 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.

Guest 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.

Round 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).

Add 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.

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