Moving Discussions Out of the LMS

I don’t know why I haven’t done it before — holding discussions for an online class outside of the institutional CMS / LMS.

It’s probably partly because I know the importance of interactive discussions and that my classes are checked for discussion activities. It’s partly habit, that I’ve been doing discussions in the CMS for a while now. It’s partly that I want students to have some reason to click into the course site once a week!

So here’s what I’m doing this summer. Every Sunday for 10 weeks, students will be greeted by discussion directions at the top of the online course home page. We’ll be spending 2 weeks working in 5 different platforms: blogs, GoogleDocs, wikis, Nearpod, and Edmodo. The first two help introduce some of the projects that students will be doing (namely, a blog project and a Google Docs project) but also, I hope, show them some of the possibilities of these tools.

Our Week 1 discussion was held in a WordPress blog created specifically for the purposes of discussion. The first entry gives a list of sample blogs which students were supposed to browse; they responded with ideas about blog uses in their future careers. The second entry goes over the importance of LinkedIn, with a how-to video, and students responded with the public URL to their new profile.

The Week 2 discussion encourages students to start their Twitter project and surreptitiously shows them how they might leverage the email-to-blog feature in their own careers, by asking them to send a Twitter review to the secret address for a WordPress blog.

screen shot of discussion blog

What do I hope will happen, with discussions moved into the public web-o-sphere?

  • students will be more careful and thoughtful with their responses, since their real names are attached
  • the social media tools we’re discussing will seem more real and relevant as they work with them directly
  • students will be exposed to more tools than the class ever has covered before — this is the first time I’m including Nearpod and Edmodo, so there will be blog posts about those experiences later in the summer!

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