Nov 7, 2005

Increasing Student Participation with Online Forums

One of the tools I’ve been using with my students this year is Moodle, an online course management system. Instead of using the system to run a completely online class, I’ve used it to supplement what I am doing in the classroom. Within Moodle, forums have been a favorite of my students who view them as, “a lot like e-mail, except you can read what everyone says.” One of the benefits of forums is that every student gets the chance to answer the questions you pose, which means far greater participation by ALL students, instead of the typical small number of students who get the chance to participate in class discussions due to limited time. Not only do the students all get to respond, but I require them to reply to at least two other students’ answers. At first I accepted any response, but with time, and mini-lessons, students have learned to respond with specific detail, interesting questions, and polite disagreement. It has become much more conversational in tone. All in all, the depth of discussions has surpassed what I typically get in class. Now, if I could only get the district to give me the extra planning time I now need to keep up with all of this work by my students!

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