Dinner Party

Online Discussions = A Dinner Party?

Cheryl Hayek of Faculty Focus tackled a frequently asked online teaching question. Faculty members, new and experienced alike, fret over how often they should post in the discussion forums of online classes. Too little (or not at all) and students feel abandoned, and crave instructor presence. Too much and the discussion is likely to be stale, stilted and uninspired.

While every group of students is different and we need to consider the course goals, Hayek introduces the interesting analogy of the dinner party. In her own words …

Discussion forums are like dinner parties, and the instructor is the host. Personally welcoming each student into this new and unfamiliar place and making them feel like they belong in that environment is a necessity to help integrate them socially and academically into the course; key elements in all retention research. We know that retention is heavily reliant on that integration and students’ related satisfaction.

Using the dinner party analogy simplifies the complex nature of discussion forum facilitation into a much simpler, relevant analogy because everyone has experienced it either as guest or host. When we give faculty this connection, it removes the guesswork by activating their own schema to understand how to facilitate in a way that promotes learning through substantive interaction.

Read the full article here, including specific examples of how the analogy can be applied to discussions.

Also, I will strive to look for resources that could help my students improve their reading and/or typing skills, such as ideas listed here on the Teaching Professor Blog or here from Faculty Focus.  While all the ideas presented here might not help in my specific courses, perhaps they’ll help you consider how to help students who might need a bit of extra practice with reading and typing.

Jennifer LanterJoanne Dolan
Instructional Design Coordinator, CATL

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