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					   How Should We Talk?:
Scaffolding the Work Process
     for Online Groups
           Vanessa Dennen, Ph.D.
         San Diego State University
       http://www.vanessadennen.com
           vdennen@mail.sdsu.edu

            Curtis J. Bonk, Ph.D.
   Indiana University and Courseshare.com
            cjbonk@indiana.edu
    Research on Nine Online Courses
    (Vanessa Dennen, San Diego State Univ)

• 9 case studies of online classes using
    asynchronous discussion
•   Topics: sociology, history, communications,
    writing, library science, technology, counseling
•   Range of class size: 15 - 106
•   Level: survey, upper undergraduate, and
    graduate
•   Tools: custom and commercial
•   Private, semi-public, and public discussion areas
      Poor Instructors      Good Instructors


• Little or no feedback   • Provided regular
  given                     qual/quant feedback
• Always authoritative    • Participated as peer
• Kept narrow focus of    • Allowed perspective
  what was relevant         sharing
• Created tangential      • Tied discussion to
  discussions, fact         grades, other tasks.
  questions               • Used incremental
• Only used “ultimate”      deadlines
  deadlines
              Deadlines
• Deadlines motivated participation
  – Message counts increased in the days
    immediately preceding a deadline
• Deadlines inhibited dialogue
  – Students posted messages but did not
    discuss
  – Too much lag time between initial
    messages and responses
            Modeling
• Instructor modeling increased the
  likelihood of student messages meeting
  quality and content expectations
• Modeling was more effective than
  guidelines
  Guidelines and Feedback
• Qualitative discussion guidelines and
  feedback helped students know what their
  participation should look like
• Quantitative discussion guidelines and
  feedback comforted students and was readily
  understood by them
• Feedback of both varieties was needed at
  regular intervals, although the qualitative
  feedback need not be individualized
     Common Instructor Complaints
a)    Students don’t participate
b)    Students all participate at the last minute
c)    Students post messages but don’t converse
d)    Facilitation takes too much time
e)    If they must be absent, the discussion dies
      off
f)    Students are confused
         Reasons why...
Students don’t participate
   – Because it isn’t required
   – Because they don’t know what is expected
Students all participate at last minute
   – Because that is what was required
   – Because they don’t want to be the first
Instructor posts at the last minute
How would you respond?
1. Who invented ______?
2. Who was the most influential
   political figure of the 1990’s?
3. What were the 3 main points
   of the reading?
Common problems with online
    discussion prompts
Too vague
  – Learners have no idea how to respond
Too fact-based
  – Only one or two persons need to respond
Lack directions for interactions
  – Learners don’t know what acceptable
    participation looks like
   Elements of a good prompt
• Specifies the desired response type
• Allows for multiple correct answers
  (perspective sharing, unique application of
  knowledge)
• Provides guidance for peer interaction
• Fosters reflection, thinking, or
  collaboration
  A 5-Stage Approach: Async
1) Initial topic or idea generation
2) Initial response
3) Respond to peers (can continue
   for as long as desired)
4) Wrap up questions
5) Reflect
     A sample 5-part prompt
Step 1: Idea Generation
  – Find a recent news story online or
    announcement that provides an
    example of one of the issues or
    concepts in our recent readings.
    Post the URL and a brief summary
    of the article. Do not go into detail
    of what this is an example of or
    how it relates to the reading.
 A sample 5-part prompt (2)
Step 2: Initial Response
   – Select and read one of your classmate's
     contributions, and post a message under their
     thread that discusses what major issues this
     article relates to and support your assertions
     with references to our course readings. If there
     are secondary issues, mention those as well.
     Please respond to a message that has not yet
     received a response so that we can make sure
     everyone gets at least one response. You may,
     of course, respond to multiple threads if you
     wish.
         3-sentence rule
 Avoid overwhelming “I agree” type
  messages
 Require that all students post messages of 3
  sentences or longer
 The result:
  1. I agree with you.
  2. That’s a good idea
  3. Ummm…. I have to actually say
     something now!
Web Facilitation???
     Facilitation (Dennen, 2001)
• High instructor presence
  – 1:1 student-instructor message ratio created low
    peer interaction
  – Participant-like IP facilitated peer interaction
• Instructor modeling increased student
  messages meeting quality and content
  expectations
• Modeling was more effective than guidelines
• Deadlines motivated participation
• Deadlines inhibited dialogue
      Facilitation (Dennen, 2001)
• Participation was higher when students had a
  clear goal & extrinsic motivation to participate
• Relevance has a positive effect on participation
• Greater dialogue when shared perspectives
• Fact-based q’ing strategies did not work well
• Consistent, regular fdbk motivates students
• Quantitative and qualitative guidelines
Year 2: Focus on Forming Groups
 Social Interaction in Online
           Learning

       A situationalities framework for
       choosing instructional methods

Dr. Brian J. Beatty
Center for Research on Learning and Technology
School of Education, Indiana University
August 15, 2002
What are effective combinations of social interaction
methods to use, for different conditions and values, in
order to achieve specific learning goals?

• Case Survey
   – 30 cases from published, peer reviewed sources
• Interviews
   – 5 selected authors
• Surveys
   – All authors solicited, 50% participation
           20 Implications
1. Select instructional methods based on
   fundamental values and goals.
2. Take the time to consider the
   instructional conditions associated with
   selected instructional methods.
          20 Implications (cont.)
6.  Be prepared to modify instructional methods to
    accommodate emergent instructional conditions.
7. Keep a record of changes to instructional methods you’ve
    used in response to changing situations.
8. The use of domain experts outside of the “official” class is
    an effective method to build a sense of learning
    community.
9. Prepare students to use the communications technologies
    before requiring significant collaborative work.
10. Encouraging students to provide technical support to one
    another can be an effective method of building online
    learning community.
         20 Implications (cont.)
11. The educational purpose for using instructional
    methods that use social interaction should be
    readily apparent to students.
12. Do not overwhelm students with many new
    technologies at once.
13. For asynchronous discussions, plan for structuring
    student participation patterns.
14. Allow for socially-focused discussions, but don’t
    expect them to thrive in all situations.
15. Synchronous methods should vary depending on the
    size of the participant group.
         20 Implications (cont.)
16. External, non-instructional conditions can influence
    the effectiveness of instructional methods.
17. Plan to support student self-regulated learning (self
    pacing, etc.).
18. Student motivation is the most common and overall
    the most important instructional condition..
19. Instructor motivation is an important condition, too.
20. There are instructional methods that use social
    interaction that can be effectively used to meet any
    instructional situation.
Vanessa Dennen: Year 2
      How Should We Talk?
• Inspired by students in an online class
  asking “How should we talk?” in response
  to being assigned to a group project
• The advice in this presentation comes from
  – Research on online classes and work groups
    (Dennen, 2001-2)
  – Experience during 5 years of teaching online
    and blended classes and requiring group
    projects
     Online Work Groups:
     Instructor Perspective
• Students can learn from each other
• Groups can accomplish more than
  individuals
• Prepares students for real-world
  teamwork
• Fewer projects to monitor / grade
       Online Work Groups:
        Student Perspective
• Potential for aggravating team members
• Potential for lazy/non-productive team
  members
• Potential for team members who hijack
  projects
     Challenges of Group Work
•   Equitable distribution of labor
•   Timeliness of contributions
•   Quality of contributions
•   Communication and within-group feedback

    These challenges are felt more strongly by
    online groups who never meet face to face
    and may not communicate in real time
     Helpful Group Qualities
• Shared interests
• Adequate ability across members to
  complete tasks
• Ability to communicate effectively
  – MAY NEED TO BE LEARNED IN AN
    ONLINE CLASS
    Key Strategies for Scaffolding
        Online Group Work
•   Structure the assignment
•   Determine communication tools
•   Check on progress
•   Assess process as well as product
   Structuring the Assignment
• Start date, end date, and final deliverable may not
  be enough
   – Procrastination in an asynchronous environment can be
     deadly!
• Break the project into smaller parts with
  incremental due dates
   – Helps keep students focused
   – Encourages continuous participation/discourages
     procrastination
• Require students to create a work plan
 Sample Assignment Structure
• Week 1: Developing a work plan and
  picking a topic
• Week 2: Gathering and summarizing
  resources
• Week 3: Outlining and writing report
• Week 4: Editing report and preparing
  presentation
• Week 5: Presentations
            The Work Plan
• Helps keep groups focused
• Essentially, a group contract for when and
  how the work will be done
• Groups can follow a format recommended
  by the instructor, but personalized to meet
  their needs
• Helps lay the groundwork for a successful
  group process
    Sample Work Plan Topics
• Listing of each group member‟s strengths
   – subject matter areas; editing; creating presentations
• Schedule for completing work
   – Includes group expectations for submitting drafts or
     commenting on each others‟ contributions
• Commitment for how work will be completed
   – collab. writing process, divide and conquer, etc.
• Communication methods and expectations
   – Contact info, commitment for checking in with group
• Tool and style expectations
   – Preferred word processors, fonts, etc.
More Tips for Group Productivity
• Post the assignment well in advance
   – Students will know it is coming and (hopefully) check in at
     the beginning of the assignment period)
• Encourage roles and meeting minutes
   – One student should be project manager
   – One student should be the group liaison with the instructor
   – One might serve as compiler and editor
• Assign project groups to provide each other with
  formative (and perhaps summative) peer feedback
   – Students are kept on task when outsiders are reviewing
     their work
 Help With Communication Tools
• Students likely don‟t know how to be productive
  online teammates
• Different students may have different preferred
  communication styles
• Organization and clear expectations are important
   – Imagine tracking different drafts of a group paper, all
     with different titles and posted in various locations
 How Can An Instructor Help?
• Make students aware of their
  communication options
• Provide strategies for using different tools
  effectively
  –   When to use each tool
  –   How to thread discussion
  –   How to quote messages to maintain context
  –   How to organize and name files
Possible Communication Tools
• E-mail
  – Students may default to this medium
  – Good for reaching people quickly
  – Not good for substantive group work (doesn‟t archive
    or thread well)
• Asynchronous discussion board
  – Good for sharing information, providing critique
  – May need to e-mail non-active group members and get
    them to check the board
  More Communication Tools
• Chat
  – Good for making decisions and/or periodic check-ins
     • Should encourage students to have regularly scheduled chats, if
       possible, and archive them
• File exchange
  – Good for keeping all files in one location
     • Should encourage students to find a naming convention that
       indicates file draft/version
• MS Word
  – Teach students how to use the comments and track
    changes features
        Checking on Progress
• Require students to submit regular (weekly?)
  updates via an agreed upon medium, such as e-mail
• May use a designated contact for each group, or
  request a report from each student
   – Group reports are easy to track
   – Individual reports help keep everyone involved and
     identify non-participants quickly
• Require a standard reporting format
   – Makes keeping tabs on groups more efficient
   – May want to vary format/content based on the week/part
     of project
          When to Intervene
• Request access to discussion boards and file
  exchanges to monitor progress
   – Peek in once/week just to make sure the group is
     productive
• Monitor (browse) interim deliverables and contact
  the group if there are problems such as
   – Deliverable not complete
   – Deliverable not as expected / off-track
   – Evidence of project hijacking/ non-participating
     members
           Intervention Options
• E-mail the group and comment on the state of
  their project
• E-mail an individual (hijacker, non-participant)
  and provide suggestions for how they might get
  others (or themselves) more involved
• Set up a time to chat with the group
   – Particularly helpful if you identify
       • Difficulty coming to consensus or making decisions
       • Tensions amongst group members
       • Group members not “listening” to each other
            Assessing Process
           Student Perspective
• Assessing process indicates to students that you
  care how they get the work done
• When process is assessed, students are more likely
  to:
   – Engage in reflection and discussion (instead of “just
     getting it done”)
   – Seek team feedback
   – Communicate more regularly
   – Get work done on schedule
          Assessing Process
        Instructor Perspective
• Provides formative feedback for improving the
  assignment next time
• Prevents students from “snowing” the instructor
  about their involvement
   – HOW the work got done and WHO did it is clear
• Helps assign grades appropriate to the individual
  students‟ contributions
• Maintains the sense that the instructor is guiding
  students throughout all parts of the class
  Possible Methods of Assessment
• Review of online group work spaces
   – Evidence of regular and substantial contributions
• Self and peer assessment
   – Have students rate team members on various
     dimensions
   – Have students indicate where work plan was
     followed/not followed
• Student reflection
   – Have students write brief reflections on their group
     process, indicating what they might change the next
     time
            Closing Thoughts
• Students need help in online classes to:
   – Form groups
   – Chunk and schedule work
   – Select and use appropriate communication tools
• Progress reports help maintain a smooth process
• Assessing process helps debrief a project and
  improve the assignment and student work habits
  for the next time
Please feel free to contact me…
• My sincere apologies for being unable to
   present today
• Please contact me at
   vdennen@mail.sdsu.edu
if you have any specific
questions
• THANK YOU!
Online Mentoring and
 Assistance Online

Twelve forms of electronic learning
    mentoring and assistance
 (Bonk & Kim, 1998; Tharp, 1993; Bonk et al., 2001)
1. Social (and cognitive)
Acknowledgement: "Hello...," "I
agree with everything said so far...,"
"Wow, what a case," "This case
certainly has provoked a lot of
discussion...," "Glad you could join
us..."
2. Questioning: "What is the name of this
concept...?," "Another reason for this might
be...?," "An example of this is...," "In contrast
to this might be...,""What else might be
important here...?," "Who can tell me....?,"
"How might the teacher..?." "What is the real
problem here...?," "How is this related to...?,“,
"Can you justify this?"
3. Direct Instruction: "I think
in class we mentioned that...,"
Chapter „X‟ talks about...,"
"Remember back to the first week of
the semester when we went over „X‟
which indicated that..."
4. Modeling/Examples: "I think I
solved this sort of problem once when
I...," "Remember that video we saw on
„X‟ wherein „Y‟ decided to...," "Doesn't
„X‟ give insight into this problem in case
„Z‟ when he/she said..."
5. Feedback/Praise: "Wow, I'm
impressed...," "That shows real insight
into...," "Are you sure you have
considered...," "Thanks for responding
to „X‟...," "I have yet to see you or
anyone mention..."
6. Cognitive Task Structuring:
"You know, the task asks you to do...,"
"Ok, as was required, you should now
summarize the peer responses that you
have received...," "How might the
textbook authors have solved this case."
7. Cognitive
Elaborations/Explanations:
"Provide more information here that explains
your rationale," "Please clarify what you
mean by...," "I'm just not sure what you mean
by...," "Please evaluate this solution a little
more carefully."
8. Push to Explore: "You might
want to write to Dr. „XYZ‟ for...,"
"You might want to do an ERIC
search on this topic...," "Perhaps
there is a URL on the Web that
addresses this topic..."
9. Fostering Reflection/Self
Awareness: "Restate again what the teacher
did here," "How have you seen this before?,"
"When you took over this class, what was the
first thing you did?," "Describe how your
teaching philosophy will vary from this...,"
"How might an expert teacher handle this
situation?"
10. Encouraging Articulation/Dialogue
Prompting: "What was the problem solving
process the teacher faced here?," "Does
anyone have a counterpoint or alternative to
this situation?," "Can someone give me three
good reasons why...," "It still seems like
something is missing here, I just can't put my
finger on it."
11. General
Advice/Scaffolding/Suggestions:
"If I were in her shoes, I would...," "Perhaps
I would think twice about putting these
people into...," "I know that I would first...,"
"How totally ridiculous this all is; certainly
the “person” should be able to provide
some..."
12. Management (via private e-mail or
discussion): "Don't just criticize....please be
sincere when you respond to your peers," "If
you had put your case in on time, you would
have gotten more feedback." "If you do this
again, we will have to take away your
privileges."
 Which of these 12 do
you think are the most
prevalent on the Web?
____________________
____________________
TICKIT Staff Mentoring (IU Study)
     (direct instruction and explanations = 0)

        3%    6%
                              24%
     5%                                      Ack nowledge
                                             Question
                                             Examples

14%                                          Feedback
                                             Task Structure
                                             Push to Explore
                                             Foster Reflection
                                  9%         Enourage Dialogue
4%
                                             Scaffold
                                             Manage
 1%
                               7%            Weave
 3%
               24%

      (Bonk, Ehman, & Hixon, 2000)
Bye, Bye

				
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posted:7/15/2011
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