Discussions drive connections among students

Originally posted on March 18, 2010 by Brian Beatty

In a HyFlex course, the online discussions are a primary means of connecting students who complete class activities online and offline (in-person, in class).  Though a natural connection point is course content, in general, content itself is not interactive. Students can just as easily read a text, watch a video, or listen to a podcast on their own time, in preparation for class, whether they plan to come to a class meeting or participate in online activities in any given week. Content resources don’t generally drive interaction. Well-designed interaction works with content to generate knowledge in the minds of learners and within the learning community itself.

What does drive (enable, facilitate, require) interaction? In the HyFlex courses I teach, it is interactive discussion requirements. Students use discussions in at least two ways; as a place for open reflective discourse about their learning process and products, and as a social environment that provides an opportunity to test out ideas, receive feedback, and generally share their developing understanding about course content (asking and answering topical questions). I’ll write more about each form of discussion in coming posts.

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