I found Chapter 8 more relevant and interesting than Chapter 9. Our author notes that the Message Board — or for me, the Discussion Board — is a primary arena for student activity and student-generated content. He also notes that a lot of learning opportunities can be had there. I have found this to be true in my own online courses. We spend a lot of time there writing about writing, reading, and the enduring theme for my Engl. 100 course, human ecology. There are good opportunities to be found for teachable moments and modeling.
The consideration of what kind of facilitator persona we might adopt and how present we should be when we do got me thinking, again, about something I think about every time I enter the forums I create, particularly how present I should be — and is it enough. Assigning a ratio of teacher to student responses seems uselessly prescriptive, but when you're at sea among the posts, with more posts coming every day (in the properly humming forum), perhaps a number-as-goal can keep you on track. I tend to focus on content rather than quantity of posts I contribute, which aligns with the kind of facilitator I seem to track most with, which is the Reflective Guide. I am fairly conscious of the modeling factor of anything I write, so I am pretty purposeful in applying the moves I want them to make in their own writing.
Below I am including the prep to a discussion I moderated in my Engl. 100 class this spring followed by the prompt in the Discussion Board.
Here is the prep I asked the students to do:
Last week you began work on a two-week project introducing you to a suite of research tools (Research Response 1, due Sunday, Mar. 5), and this week you will begin work on your first research paper (Research Paper 1, due Sunday, Apr. 9). This juncture, between learning to research and applying what you have learned, offers a good opportunity for reflection on what research is — what it is asking of you and what your responsibilities are as a researcher. The outcomes for this course trade in this acquisition of skill and demonstration of accountability.
Research is an act of inquiry. When you are tasked with writing a research paper, your effort does not begin with the paper, but with an inquiry. When you apply critical reading skills to a text, that instance of reading is an example of inquiry. When you think critically, that opportunity is a product of inquiry.
Inquiry can be defined as
Looking to the definition detailed above, inquiry is not passive, but proactive. It does not involve waiting for information to arrive, but instead pursuing the information and enduring the effort to acquire it.
So, to help unpack this idea of inquiry and propel you toward reflection, please
- listen to the episode of TED Radio Hour embedded below;
- watch the TED Talk with Historian of Science Naomi Oreskes, "Why we should trust scientists", mentioned in the episode (also embedded below); and
- participate in the Inquiry thread in the Discussion Board.
Please complete these tasks by Sunday, Mar. 12 at 11:59 p.m.
My hope is that this opportunity to reflect will inspire your research efforts, contextualize them, and underscore what a significant act the effort to conduct responsible research is.
And here is the prompt in the forum:
After you have listened to the TED Radio Hour episode and watched the TED Talk featuring Naomi Oreskes, please write a 300-word response to the following questions and post it by Friday, Mar. 3. Make specific references to the broadcast and the video, your own experience, and other readings to support your response. These questions are a starting point for our discussion of this topic. Once you have made your initial response, you make take the discussion in other directions.
- In the TED Radio Hour episode the host takes a look at inquiry through a series of anecdotes and inquirers. Consider how the examples in the episode relate to your own history of acquiring information. Describe how the episode challenges and/or affirms your understanding of what it means to acquire information.
- In the TED Talk given by Historian of Science Naomi Oreskes, she defines a lot of language that she associates with the idea of inquiry. Choose one of the terms or phrases from her talk that you feel best exemplifies the effort and/or responsibility of a researcher. Explain what makes this language so fitting.
- Reflect on the tools you were introduced to in the Research Response 1 assignment. Choose one tool that you feel certain you will use in the future and explain how it might facilitate inquiry. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the tool.
After you have posted your response to one of the questions, please respond to at least three of your peers' posts by Sunday, Mar. 12.