Academic journal article Higher Education Studies

Teaching Strategies in Online Discussion Board: A Framework in Higher Education

Academic journal article Higher Education Studies

Teaching Strategies in Online Discussion Board: A Framework in Higher Education

Article excerpt

Abstract

In order to promote meaningful learning in the online discussion board, this study attempted to identify key factors that affect the online discussion by a literature review and propose an innovative instructional framework to deal with those factors. Through the literature review, five factors were identified. An innovative instructional framework through web 2.0 tools was proposed. One pilot study which applied the framework into the college-level course showed the evidence for supporting student learning. The school educators and instructors in higher education institutions may adopt the cost-effective framework to improve online education.

Keywords: Online learning, Online discussion board, Cost-Effective framework

1. Introduction

When compared to traditional face-to-face instruction, there is a weakness on the social communication dimension of the online learning environment where online learners can not see other students' facial expressions and convey personal spoken messages to other classmates (Sammons, 2007). Therefore, from the teaching and learning perspectives, promoting social communication between learners by the electronic media plays a crucial role in collaborative online learning.

With advanced technologies available in the market, however, text-based electronic media still dominate social communication in the online courses. Among the text-based electronic media, the online discussion board is the most widely used medium for facilitating learner-learner interaction. In this platform, instructors expect to construct a collaborative learning environment where learners can share their intrinsic learning experiences and negotiate with a common understanding for certain tasks (Moore & Kearsley, 2005).

To date, a number of studies have explored various factors affecting the effectiveness of the online discussion. However, of those studies, few attempted to categorize the factors and propose related instructional strategies. Therefore, the purpose of this paper was to identify key factors that affect the online discussion by a literature review and propose an innovative instructional framework to deal with those factors.

The framework proposed in this paper bases on the web 2.0 technologies, which are free online software in the market. The school educators and instructors in higher education institutions may adopt this cost-effective framework to improve online education.

2. Literature Review

Through the extensive literature review, five key factors were summarized in Table 1.

Detailed description of the above five factors was discussed as follows:

1) Collaborative Learning (Peers Support/ Cooperation/Familiar with Peers/ Social Loafing)

Peers support plays an important role of promoting complex interaction in asynchronous discussion forums. Fung (2004) found students' level of participation was affected by their peers in an asynchronous discussion forum. He further claimed that when too many peers become lurkers (i.e. lack of participation), students who actively involve in the online discussion will be affected by this phenomenon. Brescia et al. (2004) studied peer teaching in web based threaded discussions. They found that online discussion leaders can support others in discussion activities. The students were able to expand their own knowledge by observing the multiple perspectives presented by other peers.

Ling and Ku (2006) found that whether group members had similar or different backgrounds did not seem to have an impact on the degree of learning in an online course. In their research, the group members posted most statements on the group discussion board, initiated most of the interactions between group members, and generated most new ideas through discussions even though they consisted of students from different previous experiences. Thus, the researchers claimed that collaborative learning can help each learner achieve advanced concepts. …

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