Student Discussion in the Media Age
Effective discussion is at the heart of every successful classroom. The sharing of information and ideas encourages students to engage actively with course materials and to articulate opinions based on sound critical thinking. Fortunately, computers, mobile devices, and the Internet open the doors to a variety of exciting new ways to discuss and communicate with your students. The conversations can start in class, but they can continue long after the bell. Certainly nothing can replace the impact of face-to-face dialogue, but hopefully this section offers you new ways to generate discussion with your students both in and outside of class, and to communicate more effectively with the world outside your classroom walls.
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- The Web is increasingly populated by online social networks-- places where people share information, opinions and resources on a whole range of topics. Facebook, the best known social network, is a hugely popular online community where people and organizations share information across the world with friends, colleagues, and organizations. Twitter is another extremely popular social network where users "tweet" about what they're doing and carry on conversations. These networks are largely non-academic and contain much frivolous content. So, what role can a social network play in education?
Getting started with Blogging
- Blogging lets you and your students have written discussions and online communications. These discussions can be private or publicly available and can be archived for future use. Blogging can be used to form a discussion forum, post short current events articles, invite students' thoughts, foster communication among multiple classes, serve as a log of student progress on a research assignment, post photos and homework assignments online, and much more.
Collaboration through Wikis
- A wiki is essentially a collaborative website. Wikis can be private in-house sites meant to serve a limited number of editors, or wide-open public sites where almost anyone can contribute. Students, teachers, and even parents could collaborate to gather, edit, and present information on a wiki. For instance, a wiki could be used to build a a list of historical definitions and class notes that constitute a study guide.
Creative Uses of Backchannels
- Class discussions provide excellent opportunities for people to listen, think and speak. They have a few problems though. First, only one person can speak at once. Second, some people are too shy to speak. However, a backchannel can help to solve these problems.