It's Not a Discussion Board, It's a Classroom

Friday, January 6, 2012: 2:30 PM
Chicago Ballroom IX (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers)
Chris Laney, Berkshire Community College
History is a more suitable discipline than most for the unique circumstances of the online environment, in part because of the infinite number of fascinating topics for discussion, debate, and role-playing.  I will be sharing several assignments which use the online discussion board in ways which go beyond the traditional question and answer format. 

I will start with a brief tour of one of my online history courses (either Western Civilization or History of International Relations Since 1945).  This will include a look at how the Discussion Forums fit into the overall context of the course in terms of content and assessment.  Most of the presentation will center on the various ways to utilize discussion forums for specific history topics.  For example, when we cover the French Revolution, students are assigned to a social class and “Estate” and required to create a fictional character consistent with their status.  The students then comment on unfolding events of the revolution from the point of view of that character.  In the International Relations course, students can be divided into teams for purposes of a debate on topics like the Arab-Israeli Conflict or the benefits of globalization.  In all cases, the discussion board allows students to do more than answer questions or discuss the subject – they can easily share images, music, and video related to history in a way that is difficult to duplicate in the on-campus classroom.

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