Get the students talking

I’m working with CTL to design a hybrid course. My course is called Launch Academy and it brings together students from any major who want to launch a new venture while in school.

Every student has a different business idea, and different baseline competencies related to new venture launches, but all of them have a common spirit of entrepreneurship. Despite their diversity they have that important aspect in common.

One of The Five Common Pitfalls of Online Course Design, that resonated with me was the admonishment not to ignore the ways students can interact in a properly designed online or hybrid course. That will be important in my course. I would like my class to be a true community, with students who observe each other, learn from each other and provide meaningful support. The common spirit they share should enable this.

I will facilitate it through regular use of peer feedback assignments, implemented on discussion boards. These students want to talk about their ideas and their work and they want to help each other. Enabling that is something I need to make happen.

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5 Responses to Get the students talking

  1. Kirsten Winters says:

    I’m looking forward to hearing more about how your students prefer interacting with each other online…how you’ll enable them. I know my students are interacting, but I struggle with understanding how to guide those interactions to be more productive in a formal team setting and online, when I can’t necessarily gauge the quality of the interactions in real time…

  2. Kelby Hahn says:

    This course sounds like a great opportunity to get students engage with each other’s ideas! Peer feedback seems like a good way to get them more/faster feedback while also building community. Any thoughts on how you’ll cultivate an environment of providing constructive feedback?

    • tripaths says:

      Kelby – In my limited experience, I’ve had but few problems maintaining a positive environment with discussion boards and peer feedback. Maybe it’s the nature of what I teach, or the tone I have in teaching, but I rarely see hostile challenges and defensiveness.

      My go-to framework is to ask for feedback that identifies 1) strengths, 2) opportunities for improvement and 3) suggestions for improvement. That is formulaic and some students will treat it as a mindless list-making exercise, but it’s easily understood and by saying something nice first, students (I perceive) feel more comfortable to subsequently provide useful critical feedback.

      Definitely though, the structure of the discussion prompt seems to make a huge difference. I’ve seen the same students respond vastly differently to different prompts. I can’t say I understand why and I’m not yet able to predict which prompts stimulate great discussions, but I keep guessing and checking!

      • Kari van Zee says:

        I appreciate the go-to framework of asking for “strengths” first and then opportunities for improvement as both are request positive, constructive feedback. I have used a similar framework for in person per reviews and like the approach of building it into the hybrid aspects of getting the students talking. In our remote lab course this term, we definitely are seeing challenges in getting some students talking.

  3. Kelby Hahn says:

    That framework seems like a great option! I’ll definitely have to keep it in mind. Thanks for sharing!

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