The value of weekly discussions

Most online courses require students to ‘discuss’ ideas within the virtual classroom as a way to develop thinking and understanding, similar to what might occur in a campus classroom.  Many online universities grade these discussions as a way to ‘force’ students to participate in an equal way, but Glion takes a slightly different view.  It would rather promote discussions as normal way for mature experienced professionals to share, discuss and debate issues, in a similar way to that at a work-based meeting, professional conference, or intellectual debate.  In other words, why not ‘share, discuss and debate issues’ with like-minded colleagues, as one would at work?  Why do professionals need to be graded for what they think and say in a (virtual) meeting area, which occurs quite naturally on daily basis?


The advantage of these discussions happening in the classroom is to enable the teacher to quickly gauge that the thinking and development is progressing successfully towards achieving the learning outcomes, and when appropriate to intervene, build, guide, and correct individual and collective thinking before a formal assessment is submitted.


Almost all online programs suffer from the same challenges, such as how to generate a high level of quality discussion from all students all the time in the virtual classroom.  Judging from the extensive research literature published on the topic, it appears though that even assessed discussions have little bearing on achieving this goal. 


However, any good program continues to believe in the value of collaborative discussions and will work hard to promote and encourage it through grades, encouragement, collegial obligations, etc, and Glion shares all of these attempts, except for grades.


Furthermore, the teacher will be far more supportive of students who demonstrate high levels of commitment, and the Progression Board will be more favourable to students who have demonstrated classroom activity when considering borderline (pass/fail) cases and when considering distinction classifications”


Martin Senior

Program Leader, Online MBA

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