Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Incorporating Restricted Response Items in Online Learning Community Discussions

This post contains a collaborative learning exercise directed towards my colleagues at Walden University. Specifically, we are challenged with developing and moderating a discussion question related to this week’s resources on the subject of online community building. Pursuant to this goal, I will respond to questions posed on other blogs and moderate/respond to respondents to the questions noted below. I hope casual observers (there are a few) may find the exercise useful as well. 
Learning Objective:
Utilize specified resources to develop a written critical analysis of the efficacy of an online learning community.
According to (Oosterhof, Conrad, & Ely 2008 p.203) collaborative learning environments reside, and or transit through a continuum originating with simple interaction and terminating with a true learning community. With these thoughts in mind, answer the questions noted below. All discussions will be evaluated using the appended rubric.
Oosterhof, A., Conrad, R.-M., & Ely, D. P. (2008). Assessing learners online. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson
1.       Why is it important for moderators to develop an online community as opposed to a forum residing at the interaction end of the continuum between interaction and community?

2.       Based on your past and current experiences at Walden University develop a written position analyzing where and why our discussion forum resides at a specific level of the aforementioned continuum.    
Discussion Forum Assessment Rubric
Quality of Work Submitted
A: Exemplary Work

A= 4.00; A- = 3.75

All of the previous, plus the following:
B: Graduate Level Work
B+ = 3.50; B = 3.00; B- = 2.75

C: Minimal Work

C+ = 2.50; C = 2.00;
C- = 1.75
F: Work Submitted but Unacceptable

F = 1.00
Initial Posting: Critical Analysis of Issues

**May include, but are not limited to, scholarly articles, collegial discussions; information from conferences, in service, faculty development, and/or meetings.

Applies critical thinking when analyzing key concepts.

Integrates reference material into seamless compositions demonstrating  original thought and may use creditable additional references
Relates to the assigned discussion topic with satisfactory evidence of critical thinking.

Integrates reference material into coherent  compositions incorporating supporting content
Summarizes or restates discussion topic components with minimal evidence of processing key concepts.

Post is off topic or unrelated to course materials.
Does not relate to the assigned discussion topic.

Post does not summarize or contain a connection to required readings or course materials.

Contribution to the Learning Community

The student’s contribution meets all assigned criteria and frequently prompts further discussion of a topic.

The student takes a leadership role in discussions.

The student demonstrates exemplary awareness of the community’s needs.
The student’s contribution satisfactorily meets the assigned criteria for contributions to the discussions.

The student interacts frequently and encourages others in the community.

The student’s contribution is minimal to the posting and response deadlines.

Occasionally, the student makes an additional comment.

The student’s contribution does not meet the assigned criteria

The student does not respond or responds late to postings.

Responses: Quality of Learning for Colleagues and Self

Provide specific, constructive, and supportive feedback to extend colleagues’ thinking.

Encourage continued and deeper discussion.

Offer additional resources or experiences.

Demonstrate exemplary evidence of personal learning as a result of interaction with colleagues.
Provide constructive and supportive feedback to colleagues.

Refer to sources from required readings and course materials.

Demonstrate satisfactory evidence of personal learning as a result of interaction with colleagues.
Provide general feedback with minimal or no connection to required readings or course materials.

Demonstrate minimal evidence of personal learning as a result of interaction with colleagues.
Provide agreement without substance or connection to required readings or course materials.

Demonstrate no evidence of personal learning as a result of interaction with colleagues.

Final Assignment Grade
A: Exemplary Work
B: Graduate Level Work
C: Minimal Work
F: Work Submitted but Unacceptable

(*Score =

Oosterhof, A., Conrad, R.-M., & Ely, D. P. (2008). Assessing learners online. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson


  1. Rob, as part of the discussion, is it suggested to have resources as part of the discussion build?

    Since the resources are usually outside of the discussion itself, I included some in mine as a reference point ?

    What is your thought?

  2. Gary,
    Thanks for the suggestion. I have incorporated (Oosterhof, Conrad, & Ely 2008 p.203)into the build. However, its use is more implicit than explicit. I will amend the question to include a Resource section.


  3. Rob,
    First discussion instruction is well organized, simple and straight to the point. My question to you though you highlight: Responses: Quality of Learning for Colleagues and Self for grading but not Contribution to the Learning Community but score it a 4?

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Thanks for the input. The highlighted areas represent requirements that students may overlook. At any case, I plan to further revise the rubric in the near future.

  4. Hi Robin,

    I'm a little confused on what you mean by "moderator's developing an online community opposed to a forum". Can you elaborate on exactly what you are asking?



    1. Teri,
      I’m referring to the difference between a true online learning community and one in which respondents are merely polite to one another. As noted by, (Oosterhof, Conrad, & Ely 2008 p.203) a continuum exists between these two conditions. As a realist, I suspect that most online learning forums fail to live up to their fullest potential for reasons I alluded to when responding to your post.

  5. Hi Robin,

    In regards to your second question. I think that community building activities are important for online learners because it is the only way that the students can connect with others sharing the same expertise area and seeking the same degree. I think that the community approach has to take into consideration the age of the students and determine what is the best type of activity to present. For example, Debates may be good for younger students and possibly not appropriate for adults. In either case, it requires strict guidelines so that no one gets out of hand. Posts can be beneficial for students on a weekly basis by providing an atmosphere that strengthens the community bond through experiences in the given field. I think it makes it difficult for students to really get to know each other if there are too many strict guidelines around what the topic of discussion is. I think it would be nice to have a less rigid plan at least once during the course period to allow students to pose their own questions to each other. This might build a stronger community.

  6. Rob, I like you inclusion of a 'learning objective.' Not everyone does this, and it is important because it connects the activity to purpose and assessment. Thanks.

  7. Dr. F.
    Thanks for stopping by. Your input is appreciated. I am first and foremost a Behaviorist and believe sound learning objectives must be drafted prior to interventions and assessments.