Why I Hate Wednesdays and Sundays

online collaboration
People read this title and assume I am talking about something completely different. Have no fear as that is far from the case here. When I am speaking to people about online learning, do you know what the “experienced” adults who have taken an online course always say? It boils down to “I hated the discussion boards.” The fact is that I agree with them. I hated them too.

Adults who have taken online courses know the all-too-familiar requirement of writing an original post by Wednesday at midnight and a thoughtful response to at least two other students by Sunday at midnight. What tends to happen on these discussion boards is that people write their thoughts prior to reading the material for the week. Then, for responses, they find people that agree with their thoughts to comment on.

What I used to do was find one line in the paragraph by skimming and scanning to write my response on. I wasn’t really giving it a true collaborative conversation.

How do we change this? We change this by changing what online collaboration looks like.

People can agree that a collaborative team environment is crucial to success, so doing away with collaboration is not the answer. Instead, we must morph the way in which we accomplish this task in the virtual setting. One way is to change the tools we use for collaboration. An example would be to use real-time collaborative software such as Google Hangouts, Blackboard Collaborate, Adobe Connect, or Cisco Webex. The software allows groups, both large and small, to work together on completing a task or to just have a discussion. Some organizations also have voice discussion boards in which students put their thoughts into verbal expressions and then respond to one another at various times throughout the week.

There are many tools and processes that can be put into place to help revolutionize the way students collaborate with one another virtually. What can you do to turn “I hated the discussions” into “I loved the discussions?”

Post by Shawn Wigg, Former Lead Teacher and 2014 FLVS Teacher of the Year

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