Using community development theory to improve student engagement in online discussion: a case study
Online discussion can be designed to develop the skills and confidence of students as well as providing an opportunity for constructing knowledge. If students decide not to participate or join too late, they put their own development and the quality of the learning community at risk. This article reflects on a first term undergraduate experience of a series of online discussion activities which failed to inspire timely and constructive participation. The case study identifies flaws in the design of the discussion, constructed using Salmon’s five-stage model, and shows how easy it is to miss the point when designing an online activity. Participation is a pre-requisite for developing community so this article discusses how professional community development workers identify and overcome barriers to participation strengthening engagement in a community by stimulating personal and emotional interests. In the case study, discussion topics failed to strike a personal chord with many students. This has implications for designing activities that engage each student’s interest from the outset so that participation in the discussion becomes a truly creative experience.
Keywords: online discussion; Salmon’s five-stage model; learning communities; student engagement
Authors contributing to Research in Learning Technology retain the copyright of their article and at the same time agree to publish their articles under the terms of the Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, and to remix, transform, and build upon the material, for any purpose, even commercially, under the condition that appropriate credit is given, that a link to the license is provided, and that you indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.