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Online Discussion Forums – A Tool to Supplement Learning & Teaching, in a Multi–Campus Learning Environment : A Case Study Presented by: Jose Lukose Department.

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Presentation on theme: "Online Discussion Forums – A Tool to Supplement Learning & Teaching, in a Multi–Campus Learning Environment : A Case Study Presented by: Jose Lukose Department."— Presentation transcript:

1 Online Discussion Forums – A Tool to Supplement Learning & Teaching, in a Multi–Campus Learning Environment : A Case Study Presented by: Jose Lukose Department of Information Technology

2 Introduction ● Blended Learning According to Harvey Singh(2003): Blended learning combines multiple delivery media that are designed to complement each other to promote learning

3 It could be a blend of: Synchronous Physical: Instructor-led classrooms & Lectures (face- to-face learning) Labs & workshops Filed trips etc Synchronous: Online meetings Virtual class rooms etc.

4 Cont… Self-paced, asynchronous: Supporting learning materials and Web- based training modules Online learning communities and discussion forums Etc

5 Why Blended Learning? H Singh (2003) argues that: Learning requirements and preferences of each learner tend to be different. Organizations must use a blend of learning approaches in their strategies to get the right format to the right people at the right time.

6 Oliver and Trigwell (2005) argued as an effort to resurrect Blended learning through their variation theory For learning to occur, variation must be experienced by the learner. Without variation, there is no discernment, and without discernment, there is no learning.

7 They went on to argue: Different teaching media could be used to help students experience variation and blended approach is critical in creating this variation. Literature reviews reveals that, among the educationalists, worldwide, there is a paradigm shift towards Constructivism from traditional Instructive approach. Constructivist theory of learning demands transformation of learners from Knowledge receivers to knowledge constructors!

8 WSU Case Study ● Blended Learning approach was chosen for the: course : Information Technology Management IV offered under the program B. Tech (IT)

9 The context: Course offering period: Second semester - 2009 Course is Offered for Three different Groups Multi-campus environment with a unique mix of students Butterworth (F/T) – 11 Learners Buffalo City F/T – 14 P/T – 8 Total (active) Learners - 33

10 Background information that were considered before embarking on the Blended Learning approach with the introduction of e-learning component to supplement f2f learning: Main concern: Internet availability & accessibility




14 House holds with a computer in Africa (%), 2007 (course – ITU)

15 Internet Users per 100 inhabitants in Africa, 2008 (course – ITU)

16 Computer & Internet availability and access for the students doing the course under study




20 This implies that, the major access point to Internet for them is the classroom/Computer lab. Thus the major question was: Is Blended learning going to be feasible? Are they going to accept the new learning environment? How would we ensure student participation? Is it going to add value to their learning experience?

21 The new Experience

22 Choice of Learning Management System (LMS) BlackBoard. Why? WSU has adopted Blackboard as the LMS through the Nuffic project initiative.

23 A sample module page

24 For this specific Presentation & Study: Discussion Boards/forums were Created Rationale: In these days discussion forums are used quite extensively as a powerful communication tool in numerous web-enabled applications. We used it as a primary collaboration tool

25 According to Warschauer(1997) : online discussions provide a perfect forum for an academic discourse which promotes increased student engagement, critical analysis and reflection, and the social construction of knowledge Considering the socio-economic factors of our own learners and with the researcher’s previous experiences with f2f discussions with previous batches the following observations by Straus & McGrah are very relevant

26 Introverted students are more likely to benefit from computer-mediated communication, as they find it easier to express themselves in the depersonalised forums Given the Unique mix of learners from Butterworth (with very Rural Back ground), Buffalocity (F/T students and P/T students who are working with a wealth of experience) creating a collaborative Learning environment has always been a challenge.

27 Implementation ● Each group was introduced to the idea of online discussion forum and associated learning benefits and the desired types of participation etc. Discussion forums were associated with each of the learning modules, for asking questions and discussing about the module topics, and to express their views and examples.

28 Early Observation ● After the first 1 - 2 weeks, it was observed that the students discussions were not concentrating over the major themes and expected outcomes of the modules and thus participation was somehow diminishing. Thus ● the instructor started initiating the discussions by introducing the major themes of the modules. These were designed to promote students’ critical reflections over the aspects pertaining to the core outcomes of the course/modules

29 ● Though Participation was not made compulsory, after the introduction of each forums, some feed back was given to the students verbally in each (f2f) classes. ● these all started generating increased interests among the students.

30 Some sample pages Main Discussion page

31 A Module Discussion forum

32 Threaded view of one forum

33 Learners help each other!!

34 Some useful facts: Total posts by Instructor : 15 Total Posts by Learners : 470 Average post by a learner: 470 / 29 = 14.2 There were about 5 forums. This shows that on an average, a Learner made 3 post in each of the forums.

35 No of Clicks on Each of the Discussion Forums

36 Some comments from the Learners Did the discussion boards help you? “Yes it did because those discussions actually helped me in understanding some of the concepts in IT Management” How often did u participate in discussions? “Every module, I posted something on Blackboard”

37 What is your opinion/feelings about discussions forums and online discussions? “It was helpful because you can see other people’s way of seeing things and also it assisted me in getting help from the others if I don’t understand something” Did it help you learn better? “Yes, it did” Did it help you to prepare better for the examination? “Yes it did”

38 What was the positives and negatives you experienced with the discussion forums? “The positive experience I got from it was that you are able to get other people’s understanding and assistance” “The negative experience was that the network, it was on and off”

39 Conclusion Online and Blended learning environment was well received by the learners. Discussion forums could be a very useful tool to provided: Instructor ensures focus of learning by initiating discussion themes addressing core learning outcomes Available, and accessible Internet Discussion forums provides equal opportunity

40 Cont.. Discussion forums provides equal opportunity to all thus avoid dominance by few Although increased participation in discussions does not necessarily mean the quality of ‘discussions’, increased participation is to be seen as a positive outcome and thus should conclude that they helped ‘learning’. This in turn can transform the learners from ‘knowledge receivers’ to ‘knowledge constructors’.

41 Future Research Quality of discussion forums using appropriate taxonomies (like SOLO, etc)

42 Thank you !! ?

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