Class participation a little dry, or even worse…non-existant? It’s normal to have peaks and valleys in the discussion board. Unfortunately, it’s also common to see a downward slope after the first few weeks of class. Here are some ideas to help your students actively communicate all semester.
Create an Open Forum. Add a casual discussion area to encourage free-flowing conversations that are unrelated to class material. Opening this “virtual cafe” a few weeks before the class starts enables your students to get acclimated to online discussion without the pressures of finding the “right answer” and is a great way to start building relationships with fellow classmates.
Sharing Experiences. Encourage your students to share relevant information about their daily lives, as it applies to your course. Your discussion questions should challenge your students to tap into students’ personal experiences, opinions, creativity, and so on. Instead of getting the same out of the box response, you will give your students the opportunity to read unique perspectives each time they open the discussion board, thus creating the ultimate personal learning experience.
Weekly Trivia. Use announcements and a discussion forum to create a weekly trivia contest. 1st prize…writing the next trivia question! A great alternative is to turn this into a team building exercise by splitting the class into small groups and asking questions that require multiple parts to form the answer, sort of like a web-quest. Aside from gaining more experience with group work, students will get a chance to practice their research skills.
Ask for Feedback. If class participation slows down considerably or you notice a more serious problem, a drop in assignment/test scores, go right to the source. Talk to your class about your assignments, activities, and tests. Their feedback may help you find areas to improve. Updates to the course could be as simple as re-wording instructions or quiz questions, or as challenging as creating more interesting activities.
As always, if you have any ideas or want to share how you encourage class participation, post your comments below!