Based on the module's readings, there exists many different ways to encourage student participationa nd involvement in online education. Pallof and Pratt (2005), suggests that there are four tools that are important in encouraging online collaboration. Explanation of Teams, guidelines and expectations, agreements and buy-ins. For each tool suggested by the text there exists a technological tool that can help reinforce the skills that are taught through collaboration. For explanation of teams, the technological tools that can be used are email to set forth the purpose for teams and each team member. For guidelines and expectations: Use email, telephone, cellphone, skype, and class forum to communicate guidelines. For agreements: Use class discussion and emails to communicate and address issues that may arise or to work on projects. For buy-ins: Create charters or contract that gives specifics of the purpose of the team and the responsibility of each member. “A primary task of the educator is to assist learners in forming connections and creating learning networks. These learning networks should assist learners in developing competence to meet the objectives or outcomes of a particular course” (Siemens, 2008). In other words, it is the role of the instructor to ensure that there is a comfortable environment for learning and that all learners are communicating with each other and learning at a rate that is appropriate for their success. In an online or face to face environment, learners must be allowed to become familiar with the course setting and the skills being taught. It is also important to build a sense of community online and face to face so that learners will feel comfortable learning and interacting with one another. Because of ALN’s freedom from time and place constraints, its opportunities for reflective thinking and its reach and connectivity, online education engages faculty and students in new interactions with content, with action, with each other, and with the world outside the classroom (Mayadas, Bourne, & Moore, 2005). Some links offer tools that can help reach students at diverse levels and how to use the tools to reach all students. Technological Tools for Differentiated Instruction offers information for instructors on how to use technology to reach all learners. There are also web papers and research that give great information on how to enhance learner activity. Strategies for enhancing student activity is a great resource to pick up ideas for strengthening activity between online learners.
Mayadas, F., Bourne, J., & Moore C. (2005). Introduction. In Bourne, J., & Moore, J. C., (Eds.), Elements of quality online education: Vol. 6. Engaging communities (pp. 7–10). The Sloan Consortium.
Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating Online: Learning Together in Community. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Siemens, G. (2008, January). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers. ITForum.
Kilbane, C. (2005) Technological Tools for Differentiated Instruction. Retrieved from http://www.otterbein.edu/home/fac/ckilbane/stateconf/ on November 11, 2009.
Durrington, V. A., Berryhill, A., & Swafford, J. (2006). Strategies for enhancing studentinteractivity in an online environment. College Teaching, 54(1), 190-193.