Posts Tagged JOLT

JOLT: Balancing Quality and Workload in Asynchronous Online Discussions

Of interest to teachers struggling to keep up with online discussions with their students!

Goldman, Zvi (2011) ‘Balancing Quality and Workload in Asynchronous Online Discussions: A Win-Win Approach for Students and Instructors’. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. 7:2 pp.313-323

ABSTRACT: The challenge addressed in this article is how to achieve a win-win balance between quality and workload for students and instructors participating in asynchronous online discussions. A Discussion Guideline document including minimum requirements and best practices was developed to address this need. The approach covers three phases: design and development, setting up expectations, and launch and management. The goals of the approach, based on a commitment shared by all full time and adjunct faculty, are high quality of education as well as retention of both students and qualified instructors.

Further explanation of the research challenge from the introduction: “When discussions are regarded as critical components of learning, and administered as such, they impose a significant workload on both students and instructors. In applicable programs targeting practitioner adults, discussion sessions, during which much of the evidence-based learning and experience sharing occur, can easily consume half the course workload (Goldman, 2010). The reality is that neither students nor instructors can afford to dedicate an unlimited amount of time to fulfill course requirements or teach a course. Therefore, as a matter of practicality, discussion sessions should be carefully implemented to balance pedagogic quality and workload for students and instructors alike.”

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Motivation and Participation in Asynchronous Online Discussions

I was very interested to read the findings of Xie, Durrington and Yen (2011) published in the recently released issue of the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching.  Given my current use of Twitter in my own university unit for preservice teachers, I was glad to read that others were also observing a relationship between participation in online asynchronous discussions and students’ level of motivation.  I have reproduced their abstract here:

This study investigated the relationship between students’ motivation and their participation in asynchronous online discussions during a 16-week online course. Fifty-six students participated in
online discussion activities as a normal part of their classes. Their motivation for participating in online discussions was self-reported three times throughout the semester. The findings continue to
indicate that students’ motivation has a significant relationship with their participation in online discussion activities at time two and time three. Students’ perceived value, autonomy, competence,
and relatedness have different levels of impact on their online discussion behavior. This study also found that students’ intrinsic motivation and their perceived value of online discussions remained at a moderate-high level over time, although the perceived value had a significant drop from the midpoint to the end of the semester.

Keywords: Asynchronous Online Discussion, Motivation, Distance Learning, Collaborative
Learning, Learning Community

Reading this article has motivated me to collect my own data in the next week of classes, to gather some initial responses from my own students.  I look forward to hearing their views!

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