“Given that the entire class is involved in a discussion, all ability levels are working together. The most able students have a chance to share their knowledge and talk to each other while less able students are able to read these ideas and formulate their own ideas based on the additional wisdom of others. The level of performance for all students, not just the less able, will rise due to influence from more capable peers.”
Joe Luft says
In my workshop that ended today, we spent a while discussing the importance of helping students in history classes learn ways in which to construct and support an argument. In both oral discussions and written work, students often need to experience good models of well-organized arguments. I’m not sure that the problem is so much a lack of wisdom on the part of the student a lack of experience constructing a thoughful argument that relies on evidence. Online discussions obviously need to be one piece of a larger set of learning experiences that teach kids how to use evidence to support their ideas – both orally and in writing. If they don’t know how to think this way it won’t come out in an online discussion either.
One article that touches on issues specific to online discussions is “Mapping online discussion in senior English” from the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, pp. 382-396, February 2002. It examines the hybrid speech-writing language used in online discussions and has some specific recommendations. We read this in the Writing Project workshop last month.