How To Write Engaging Questions for Online Discussion Forums

Online asynchronous discussions are often incorporated by faculty into blended or online courses, providing opportunities for rich dialog among students outside of the traditional face-to-face classroom environment. A number of steps can be taken to promote an engaging and interactive online discussion, beginning with drafting the discussion questions that students are asked to respond to. This infographic highlights a variety of suggestions that can yield more meaningful and deeper online discussions.

How to Write Engaging Questions for Online Forums Infographic
Source: BangTheTable

For students in my summer course, ETT 511, you may in particular find these tips helpful as you draft the discussion questions for the week your group facilitates.

What additional suggestions do you have for writing engaging questions for online discussion forums?  Feel free to leave a comment with your ideas!

#ETT511 Course Podcast – Summer 2014

ETT 511 - Advanced Instructional Media DesignIn addition to the course videos being available on YouTube for #ETT511 this summer, I’ll plan to try also making audio-only versions of my weekly course videos available as a course podcast that you can subscribe to using any podcast app of your choice (options include Downcast, Instacast, Apple’s Podcast app, or others to and be able to then easily download & access all future course podcast episodes directly from your smart phone or tablet.

The course podcast will contain audio-only versions of all course videos (so, you can choose to either view the videos or listen to the audio in podcast form). You don’t need to watch both, unless you would like to hear the same message twice 🙂

Here’s the podcast URL you can use to subscribe to our course podcast in your podcast app of choice:

http://justcast.herokuapp.com/shows/371/audioposts.rss

I’ll be curious to hear at the end of the course whether you preferred the audio or video option for my communications in the course.

#ETT511 Course Videos – Summer 2014

As previously shared, I plan to incorporate a number of communication media options for students in ETT 511: Advanced Instructional Media Design. After the very popular implementation of video from my last online course, which I recently presented at the Sloan Consortium International Symposium on Emerging Technologies for Online Learning, I plan to incorporate video once again in my online course this summer, using YouTube’s built-in recording and captioning capabilities. While these videos will be embedded within the Blackboard course for my students, I’ve also setup an unlisted YouTube playlist that my students can subscribe to in order to easily access and view on their smart phones and/or tablets.

The beauty about a YouTube playlist is that the video with playlist can be easily embedded within any LMS or other web-based tool. Here’s an example of the video with playlist embedded:

Here’s an example of an alternative embedding option, just a single video without the playlist:

I plan to also experiment with audio versions of the videos, distributed as a podcast. More details to come in a future post about the workflow and process I’m exploring.

Preparing for #ETT 511 – Summer 2014

ETT 511 banner
I’m looking forward to the opportunity to teach online this summer the course, ETT 511: Advanced Instructional Media Design, for Northern Illinois University’s Department of Educational Technology, Research & Assessment. Students enrolled in this course are a part of an online cohort pursuing a Master’s in Education in Instructional Technology with a K-12 Type 10 Technology Specialist Certification. It’s an honor for me to teach as part of this US News #1 Ranked Online Program.

During this accelerated (10 week) online course students will explore advanced design of mediated instruction as they engage in a wide variety of activities, designed to help them meet the following course objectives:

  1. Review current literature regarding message design principles in design and production of materials.
  2. Apply message design principles to the evaluation of existing instructional materials.
  3. Apply message design principles to the design and production of instructional materials in print, slide and video formats.

As I design and develop this online course, I plan to follow the best practices I’ve previously shared for designing exemplary courses in Blackboard and will be trying a few new features and techniques along the way. In addition to using the built-in interaction and collaborative features of Blackboard, I plan to incorporate blogging, videos, and podcasts as supplemental media options for my students in addition to course news and reminders via Remind101. I’ll also be tweeting using hashtag #ett511 and will be encouraging my students to do the same.

I’m also going to go out on a limb and share my experience and tips for incorporating these new techniques in Blackboard here on my blog, so stay tuned. My goal in doing so is to not only share my experiences for other faculty but also to give my students a behind-the-scenes look at how I’ve gone about incorporating the media elements into their course, should they so wish to use them as a model in the future.

Speaking of blogging…my students will be setting-up their own blogs in this course as they begin developing their own “digital footprint” while also gaining valuable experience communicating using a combination of media elements. In an attempt to model the possibilities for my students, I’ll be blogging for my students here and plan to preface all my course-specific posts with #ETT511. I may include other posts as well as I feel they may be appropriate.

If you are one of my students reading this…get ready, it’s going to be a great course!