Page 44 - Campus Technology, March/April 2020
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When students are doing project work, frequently, they’ll submit project drafts and a final version into the learning platform and be done with it. What’s lost there is all of the interaction among team members as that project was in process, which is often where the richest form of learning comes into play. The right kind of discussion forum could record those conversations and share them as artifacts of the work. Similarly, a project could last for the entire semester, with the ongoing discussion saved as evidence of progress as students develop their skills and knowledge.
5: MELD SYNCHRONOUS WITH ASYNCHRONOUS COMMUNICATION There are times when a group of students can get
more done on a project by jumping onto a web conference call. Usually, those are separate activities that don’t tie directly into what’s going on in the discussion forum. But why shouldn’t that forum serve as a repository for those discussions? All that’s needed is the ability to record the call and place it into the forum as a post. Then those who couldn’t make the meeting can watch the recording and add their thoughts as comments after the fact. And everybody can use the repository as a reference to the work done throughout the week.
Oftentimes, class discussion forums adopt the stark design sensibility of a tech support thread from the 1990s: topic heading, date added, number of posts. Today, modern interfaces use the tile format for easy, understandable navigation. In discussion forums that approach has an advantage: People can breeze through the tiles to find
the subject they care about, flip it around and start participating. Or if one thread has dozens of responses and another has hardly any, students can quickly identify the ones where their posts could really stand out.
Remember: Not all discussion posts have to be academic in nature. The right type of software can offer a cozy lounge where students can hang out just like they do on Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook. The point isn’t that students are invading the course with their favorite kitty videos or political memes but that they’re participating more, which translates into greater course engagement. “The students feel like part of a community. They can interact with their classmates without having to figure out how to exchange numbers or find each other on social media,” said Popetz.
Online is Growing; Shouldn’t Your Learning Platform Do the Same?
The right kind of discussion forum technology lets students interact in a more natural way, allowing them to express what they want without software limitations getting in the way. “Most tools just aren’t there yet,” suggested Popetz, “which means the institutions aren’t getting the returns they’re looking for in terms of succeeding in the online world. Online is growing fast but
it’s going to slip by for them if they don’t jump on something to really take advantage of what tools like Harmonize can do.”
Created in response to educator and student feedback, the Harmonize platform seamlessly integrates with learning management systems to create an engaging, collaborative community for dynamic academic discussion, creative and analytical thinking, and in-depth feedback that drives improved learning outcomes.
Take discussions further with Harmonize. Learn more at:
Images: Jacob Lund / Jacob Lund / Jacob Lund / GaudiLab / Prostock-studio

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