This past week in class I had my students begin preparing for a Discussion Board assignment: straightforward, direct, rather basic discussion board assignment: they were going to respond to a classmates’ initial discussion board post.
There was one catch…they had to get approval from me as to whose post they would be responding to. As I suspected, they all wanted to respond to their best friend’s initial post. I shot that idea down and made them choose another student’s post to respond to. That is when CHAOS reared it’s mischievous head. Students asked for the same friend a couple of times, others asked for their “other BFF” from class, several tried to argue/debate the reasons why they should be allowed to respond to their friend, others inquired repeatedly as to why they could not respond to their friend, and other students went back to their seats and sulked.
The purpose for my not letting them respond to their “BFF’s” initial discussion board post was to get them out of their comfort zone and to have the interact with other students. Being able to comfortably, confidently, and appropriately interact and respond to others is a necessary skill. And in my not so humble opinion, it is becoming a lost art. I attempted to explain this to the classes, unfortunately my message was not making much headway.
A number of students then wanted me to pick the post they were to respond to. That was also something I did not want to do. The students were encouraged to read over the initial posts again and choose a post that they connected with. Just not a connection based upon being friends with the student. They were to focus on the message, not the author. It took some coaxing, but eventually they came around and chose another post to respond to, even if it was only grudgingly.
In the end the students overcame their angst and the CHAOS settled down. Students used this GUIDELINE to form their responses and overall did a great job for their first attempt at responding to others in a discussion board format.