This week’s Warnock readings and Anna’s videos provided very practical advice for how to manage readings and discussion boards in the online writing classroom.
In Warnock’s Chapter 7, I found thought-provoking the choice to organize readings in a “Readings” folder or within module-specific folders (61). Whereas I have always done the former on Blackboard sites for f2f classes, I want to try the latter option to see if doing so forges more concrete connections between the reading and writing processes for students as they take what they learned from the readings and apply that knowledge/skill to their writing assignments. Perhaps this will also help me to visualize the narrative I create within and between modules.
Also, Warnock’s tips on time limits and randomizing options for reading quizzes (64-5) were interesting. I have avoided reading quizzes since my first year of teaching; since then, I have only occasionally had students generate their own quizzes and proctor and discuss them with their classmates during group work. I’ve found that has enabled students to read more closely and carefully (they definitely want to impress each other and hold each other accountable), as well as cultivate the important skill of asking good questions, rather than the yes-no questions that bring “discussions,” from first dates to classes, to a screeching halt. (Just witnessed one of those cringe-worthy dates at Souplantation.) I’m not sure how the student-generated quiz in a group formation would work online, though. Does anyone have any recommendations for making quizzes interactive and meaningful online?
From his eighth chapter, I took Warnock’s advice about laying out guidelines for posts in the syllabus (I’m realizing with each passing week how different the syllabus needs to be for an online class), keeping prompts simple in order to de-center myself in the conversation (86-7), and offering students the opportunity to cite each other in their papers (88), though this latter point will definitely be contextualized in a discussion about credibility and analyzing source material. Keeping prompts simple and open-ended coincides with Anna’s reference to Tisha Bender’s point about varying the assignments to maintain interest and fun (thank you for the Bender reading recommendation, Anna!). I find that in f2f classes, the most interesting class discussions stem from the simplest questions, e.g. “What is hip-hop?”, “What is a human right?”, or “What does it mean to ‘be a man’?” I am looking forward to how the online forum will better enable students to include multimodal examples—videos, memes, gifs, songs, etc.—to illustrate their responses to such questions. Multimodality would likewise be interesting with Anna’s example of prompting students to create their own ad. I’ve done something similar in an on-ground class and, while I’m always a fan of crude stick figures drawn on the board, it will be interesting to see what kinds of videos students could create and post online for such an activity. Thinking about these possibilities, I’m growing increasingly excited about teaching my first online class.