Facilitating Discussion Forums

In the Instructional Strategies course I am taking, we have a lively discussion forum. Each week there are new topics and we all get a turn at being the ‘facilitator’.

I love these discussion forums. It makes the course very lively. I have taken a lot of courses with discussion requirements, but the way this is structured makes the participation more frequent and really feels like a classroom discussion.

This week it is my turn at facilitation. I was really looking forward to this. My topic is whole brain teaching, which is interesting and has a lot of angles for examination.

However, It has been more of a challenge than I expected. First, I have strong opinions on the topic, so it can be a challenge not spelling out my opinion, but rather questioning and directing learners to examine different aspects.

I also ran into some issues at the very start. Initially, when I was planning this out, I wanted to introduce multiple threads, so that it would be easier to follow. In the end I chose not to start this way. No one else was doing this, so I felt it would be confusing and look like I’m ‘showing off’ or something.

2 days into my forum our Professor advised that we consider using additional threads to make the forums easier to follow. While this was not directed at me, I felt really bad that I contributed to the confusion. I should have went with my instinct. Either way, I ended up starting additional threads a couple days in.

While I am excited about this forum, the asynchronous nature has also been a challenge. Responses can be slow and not everyone jumps into participate early. When you’re monitoring your threads frequently, it can be hard not to take it personally. However, I think about my behaviour as a non-facilitator and realize that this is just a scheduling phenomena.

As I have done a lot of research and thinking about Whole Brain Teaching, I will also be doing a multi blog post series on this topic. So please stay tuned!

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