Article: Engaging diverse student cohorts: Did someone say completely online?
Authors: C. Moore and L. Signor
Journal: International Journal of Information and Education Technology, Vol 4, No. 4 (2014)
This paper explored the question of engagement of a diverse student cohort in a completely online classroom. The authors analyzed the effectiveness of chatrooms as the tool for synchronous meetings and discussions among peers and the instructors.
The instructors relied heavily on Wright and Shoop’s Constructivist model of learning called Student Centered Discussion (SCD) in which the students are engaged in productive and positive discussion through which students construct new understandings of different topics of discussion.
The researchers studied the engagement of the students of an entirely online and otherwise asynchronous class, in synchronous meetings in chatrooms. During the synchronous chats, a set of rules were laid out for students according to the SCD model, that would promote mutual respect for each other during the chats. The instructor would have to play a very big role in facilitating the discussion and leading it in the direction that was prearranged in the agenda by the professor.
The results of this case study were that it was found that by developing a SCD based model among the students, there was greater student engagement in a class that was otherwise asynchronous.
Personally, I thought this paper was not very well written. While it had numerous citations, the researchers didn’t bother to actually state the information that they were using as part of their narrative but merely cited the paper from which they took it. As a result, the paper was often difficult to understand and it felt incomplete and empty to a reader who was not familiar with the rest of the work that was cited.
The authors cited their reason for studying the use of chatrooms in classes as the fact that there was a lack of funding for other tools to be used in their classes and so this was the sole method of synchronous collaboration they could set up with the students.
However, this paper was published in 2014. It seemed hard for me to believe that in today’s world the sole method of synchronous meeting for the students of an online class was through a chatroom. Student collaboration could take place in any sphere easily, and a chatroom seemed like an archaic tool to be using in an online class.
In a chatroom, only one person is able to speak at a time. Sitting through long, teacher facilitated chat (written) discussions seemed like something that would not receive a lot of participation from students and the engagement, while present in comparison to a completely asynchronous class, would dwindle and seem ineffective in comparison to a class where the synchronous sessions are conducted through an aural or visual medium like Blackboard or a webcam.