This week, one of the most important areas that I read about were the six times to respond around once in every four student comments:
“To raise a question”
“To state my position”
“To summarize a variety of posts or positions”
“To offer a correction” (Warnock 76-77)
I know that we have discussed this topic before in our earlier posts when others raised the issue of when to stay out the comments or let them explore. In a previous post, I wrote about how I do not respond the first week, but I respond the second week and ask them how much they want me to respond. Warnock’s solution in this section offers some practical solutions of the type of content that we can respond with. Although Warnock continues with an extensive rubric about how to grade and comment (which I will explore later), the section does not suggest that students be aware or told about the types of comments that will occur. I think that there is an opportunity here to outline the types of comments and the moments that an instructor will comment so that students will not be surprised or feel confused about why one post was commented on, but another was not. I know that one time early on in my teaching, I was playing devil’s advocate and didn’t tell the students what I was trying to do. I had a student break down after class because she thought I was picking on her. It seems that if we are not going to comment on every post, and we will comment publicly, it is important to let them know early on what they will look like as well as the intention. Just as we usually have a key or a “What do My Comments Mean” type of guide in our f2f class, it seems as though we should have an equivalent in an online setting that specifically outlines these areas for the discussion board specifically. It could be something as simple as:
Comment on discussion board Why I used it
Where in the text does…? I want you to make your position stronger by backing up your point with…
Your post seems similar to... I am helping point out some connections about...
The other area that I found particularly interesting was:
“My rules include the stipulation that posts should contribute to the overall conversation. If I post an opening prompt that asks a question, and seven students simply respond to in in a similar fashion, by student seven I am giving 8s, even on otherwise good posts. This is one way to check that students are building on the conversation”
This part of the chapter was critical element that I need to add to my discussion board. After one of our last conversations about the same replies over and over, there were some great suggestions from our Writing with Machines group about how you can select the option where students have to write their post before they can see the other posts. I realize that having them respond first can contribute to this problem about not “adding to the conversation.” Now I wonder about this balance between allowing them to respond on their own versus leaving the conversation thread open. Although I have generally assigned less points to reply posts, I might consider equal points to the original post as well as the reply post in order to emphasize the need to add something different in conversation.