As part our current unity of study, my professor, Len Scrogan (http://edtechfuture-talk.blogspot.com/), posed the following question: How does the story from this charming Irish video illustrate both the realities and challenges we face when facilitating online discussions?
The obvious point that this video makes is that the words we choose to express our ideas are just as important as the ideas that we choose to express. I think that this assertion has a number of important implications for how we facilitate online discussions.
(1) When posting a topic for discussion, the facilitator should not initially include his or her opinion. They should objectively present the topic and let their fellow posters offer their opinions before weighing in with their own.
(2) A facilitator's job is to facilitate the conversation, not to hijack it. While it is ok for the facilitator to post their own thoughts regarding the topic, they should do so in a concise manner.
(3) Facilitators should encourage their fellow posters. Comments like "That's a great point," or "I really like the way you_____" illustrate that you, the facilitator, value the discussion and your posters' comments, which should keep the discussion rolling.
(4) Facilitators should be aware of who is posting and how often. While it would be rude to tell an overzealous poster to stop posting, it is perfectly ok to encourage a reluctant poster to post more. Practicing #3 above is a great way to do this.
(5) Use inclusive language when framing your topic and when posting comments. While your topic should be specific, it should be framed in a broad enough manner that it allows for a plethora of answers. The more diverse the answers, the more interesting and informative the discussion will be.
While the language we choose has even more implications for how we facilitate online discussion, the five listed above struck me as being especially important.
What do you think? Please feel free to post your comments and thoughts below.
I am a Special Education teacher currently pursuing his Master of Arts in Information & Learning Technologies (Option: K-12) at CU Denver. I work at Boulder High School in Boulder, CO. Here you will find my thoughts on education.