MIL Proposal 2012- Statement of Project Goals
So I’m finally getting around to applying for the Maricopa Institute of Learning (MIL) Fellowship Program in the district. MIL is a “Fellowship for six residential faculty in any discipline who are interested in examining significant issues in their teaching fields and contributing to the scholarship of teaching and learning through classroom research projects. Its secondary purpose is to create a community of scholars that will engage in conversations about the scholarship of teaching and learning.” I’ve wanted to apply for about five years now, but I’ve never gotten around to it. Well, this is the year, and here is my statement of project goals. I’ll post the rest once I’m accepted (fingers crossed).
With the growing popularity of online courses in the district, more students are opting for an online course of study. And as we rush to provide these online courses, we continue to look for more effective online instructional practices. Online asynchronous discussion seems to be the most prevalent practice in online courses. Online asynchronous discussions are discussions through an online media where participants are responding to each other, but not simultaneously. Online discussions are good practice because the discussion is happening in an asynchronous manner, participants have time to think about the question and others’ responses before posting their response. They are able to develop their thoughts more fully, rather than responding immediately after the question is asked. The discussion groups also provide an opportunity for participants to hear feedback from members who may be reluctant to share information in a face-to-face group setting. It is an effective online instructional practice. However, in most cases asynchronous discussions, despite their good points, more often than not are the least favorite aspect of the online course according to students. This is the case mostly because online discussions are not implemented effectively by instructors. My goal for this project is to research effective ways to structure online asynchronous discussions with particular emphasis on student led small group interaction. Discussions in online and hybrid courses as an instructional technique are integral to using cooperative learning structures, so that will be the focus of my research.