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Interactivity and feedback are vital in an online course. In Part 3 of this series, Valorie offers some ideas on how you can provide interaction and substantive feedback using threaded discussions.
Hello. I’m Dr. Valorie McAlpin, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at UNC Charlotte. Welcome to Teaching and Learning Matters. This is a series of podcasts that will feature 10 things I’ve learned about teaching and learning online. Today’s topic is the third in this series, entitled “Management of interactivity and feedback.”
Managing interactivity and feedback can be very time consuming. The Office of Evaluation, Research, and Grants at University of Maryland University College conducted a study to identify the most effective instructional strategies for teaching and learning online. Results show that “continuous faculty feedback is strongly correlated with lower student withdrawal rates.” Online faculty are expected to respond to postings, encourage and manage interaction within the class which can sometimes be an art form in and of itself.
Most of you listening to this podcast who have experience teaching online would probably agree that there is more interaction in the virtual classroom than in your face to face classroom – so much so that it is very challenging to keep on top of it all and provide substantive feedback. Not just, “good job,” or “keep up the good work,” but feedback that encourages critical thinking and analysis, or real world application.
From my own experience in teaching online, I’ve observed that there can be so many postings on a given topic that it’s just not feasible to read and respond to all of them. When this happens, it may be wise to form discussion groups with group leaders to summarize and share themes from weekly discussions.
Threaded discussions represent the heart and soul of online courses. If creatively structured, your students will interact and engage with other students, with faculty mentors, or with visiting experts. Threaded discussions allow ideas to be challenged in a safe and non threatening way. Real-world problems are identified, and creative solutions can be debated. You’ll find that your students come alive and are eager to share their knowledge, experience and ways of thinking.
This ends segment number 3 of the 10 Things I’ve Learned series. Thank you for listening and be sure to join us for the next episode, entitled “Amount of Detail required in an online course.”
And remember, Teaching and Learning Matters.
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