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Achieving Harmony: Tuning into Practice
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Wednesday, June 17 • 12:00pm - 12:30pm
CON02.07 - Building a harmonious and effective community of learners: The challenges of fostering peer interaction in online courses

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Creating situations to promote effective interaction between students in online courses presents a greater challenge than in the face-to-face environment of traditional classrooms. Yet, because interaction is a key component of learning, we need to find effective ways to implement it in the online environment. As others have pointed out, “the main vehicle of communication in an online learning community is online discussion.” However, to be successful, those involved in online discussion need the opportunity to communicate with one another. That is, they need to work together as a community. According to M. Moallem, ”a community of learners cannot exist if its members do not care for and understand each other’s feelings.” Given that students practically never see each other’s facial expressions in the online environment, this presents a particular challenge. Promoting a successful community of learners in computer-facilitated courses therefore requires careful consideration. Responding to these challenges, this presentation will focus on ways to promote communication. We will discuss 2 strategies that were implemented in an on-line course on Paris: 1. The creation of a discussion forum where students uploaded their assignments and subsequently commented on the work of their peers; 2. The creation of working groups through which the foundational principles of collaboration were established. Students were then provided with opportunities to contribute to the creation of a community of learners. After presenting their findings, the presenters will initiate an interactive discussion, inviting those interested to share their views on the challenges of online interaction.

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (1999). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The internet and higher education, 2(2), 87-105.

Moallem, M. (2003). An interactive online course: A collaborative design model. Educational Technology Research and Development, 51(4), 85-103.

Yuan, J., & Kim, C. (2014). Guidelines for facilitating the development of learning communities in online courses. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 30(3), 220-232.

Wednesday June 17, 2015 12:00pm - 12:30pm PDT
Director Room

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