Online discussion for a distributed student body
When replacing face-to-face student contact, online discussion can enhance learning – if carefully designed.
This BA programme in Child and Youth Studies is delivered to rural communities in the Scottish Highlands, where face-to-face contact between learners, peers and tutors is necessarily low, and its place is taken by well-managed online discussion.
The key design features are: (1) a link with assessment (discussion contributions count for 25% of module marks); (2) use of appropriate technology (synchronous real-time chat for small group tutorial sessions, asynchronous discussion boards for more reflective collaboration); (3) careful moderation by tutors; and (4) diagnostic pre-assessment of students’ ICT skills, followed by training if necessary.
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