Online discussions #lak13


Good practical discussion which focused on analysis of online discussions based in click-stream and on live events. Allowing goals to be set and for students to react accordingly. Challenges:

  • Capturing meaningful traces 
  • presenting data in useful form
  • supporting interpretation in decision making

Two basic underlying processes, speaking and listening online. Students can choose how to interact with online posts. Students can though get overwhelmed by volume, so helping students to understand how to react to others and create useful interaction is important. 

In speaking need to ensure that what is written is rational, spread over time and is moderately portioned, ie not a long rant.

In listening, need to attend to the ideas of others, need to listen to ideas that are broad, but looking at ideas together in context.

Evidence that some students try to read all messages in a social sense or feel pressure to read all, but get little from the content and others who are more targeted.

Use a series of metrics to see what is going on: range, number of sessions, % of posts read, number of posts made etc.  Found there’s a lot of reading activity that is not reading at all, but simply skimming or viewing. Produced a table for students so that they could see their own metrics compared to a peer average. Ideally would like some live means of feedback whereby students can see their viewed and unviewed posts so set up a visualisation for students which show discussions that student has already engaged with, which discussions have more activity associated with them etc. Students are asked to take collective responsibility for posts and so are more likely to respond to posts which are indicated as having no response to date.

re supporting interpretation, how do we make tools integrated into the learning experience sand part of the pedagogy, actionable by students and tutors. Offered 6 principles for supporting interpretation:

  1. integration to learning activity, what does the instructor expect?
  2. diversity of metrics, students found different metrics useful, trust in the numbers is very important
  3. agency in interpreting meaning, metrics not seen as absolute arbiters of activity engagement, students found goal setting useful and used multiple strategies in response
  4. reflection, metrics could be a distraction from the activity itself, so given separate time to reflect on own metrics
  5. dialogue, between students and instructor, grounded in the analytics, offered opportunities for regular discussion which were seen as supportive
  6. parity between instructor and students, analytics with, not on, students. Instructor seen as having a positive overseeing role.

 Interesting presentation which most practitioners would be able to relate to.

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About sharonslade

Dr Sharon Slade is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Business and Law at the Open University in the UK working to support both tutors and students on Open University distance learning modules and programmes. Her research interests encompass ethical issues in learning analytics and online learning and tuition. Project work includes the development of a student support framework to improve retention and progression and the development of a university wide tool for tracking students and triggering relevant and targeted interventions. She led the development of new policy around the ethical use of learning analytics within the Open University, UK.
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