As an online instructor or facilitator, it is important to make use of various technological tools that are frequently use by learners. Therefore, it is important to adopt the following technologies: a) cell phones b) blogs, c) e-books, d) emails, and e) ipods. For example, cell phones coupled with emails are two significant communication devices in which a learner can access and use anytime and anywhere. Secondly, by using cells phones and emails, students will be able to attach files and pictures. Further, other items can be sent, retrieved, uploaded, and downloaded for sharing and collaborating new learning and ideas. E-books and ipods are two technological devices that can be used by having available notes and textbooks for courses at their fingertips. Another advantage is that students will then be allowed the opportunity to work independently and collaboratively in order to enhance their critical thinking and reading skills, coupled with shaping how they learn. Some advantages of a blog are: a) allow students a chance to discuss and collaborate on a specific topic, b) post relevant information regarding the subject, and c) provide positive/constructive feedback to their peers/instructor. These tools work well in a distance education environment because most students have adopted these items, relevant to students, promotes growth; demonstrates in-depth thinking, instructors are meeting students where they are, and the possibility that students will adopt these items in the near future.
Strategies that would engage, inspire, and empower students to move forward in collaborating are: a) instructor mediated, b) student mediated, c) problem-based, and e) discussion boards.
The asynchronous instructor-mediated discussion strategies support student interactivity and enhance individual performance and satisfaction (Everhart 2000; Hiltz and Wellman 1997). For example, in-depth participation can be displayed when an instructor address questions that are related to the students’ postings. This will leave the door of knowledge open in order to encourage students to respond to the same posting. The instructor can then focus on one main point of the student’s posting and build on it by requesting a comparative or contrast analysis and challenge the student to seek further research on that particular topic.
Student-mediated involves the use of student-moderated discussions. The student has a choice of developing his/her topic or directed to use a suggested topic from the instructor. For instance, the student moderator must define the expectations of the participants. In order to be effective in executing this strategy, it is recommended that the student moderator develops a rubric as an assessment tool outlining the criteria and levels of quality (Andrade 2005, 27). This can be posted at the beginning of the class discussion. In my 8841 class last quarter I was selected to be the community leader. Once we were grouped, I immediately compiled rules and procedures page, contact information page, discussion page, duties and responsibilities, etc. An email was sent to all group members to visit the site and respond to the required information. Several emails were sent privately to inactive participants. Further, I composed and emailed a letter to remind all members about their participation, responsibilities, and discussion postings.
Problem-based is a strategy that engages students in learning by establishing small groups and presenting them with a scenario based on real world problems. In using this strategy, it is important that students establish a strong rapport with each other in order that students develop strategies for supporting, sharing, and solving PBL scenarios.
Durrington, V., & Berryhill, A., & Swafford, J. (2006). Strategies for enhancing student interactivity in an online environment. College Teaching. 54(1), 190-193.