In last night’s webinar on How to Make…

In last night’s webinar on How to Make Discussion Boards Effective Tools, we learned about the importance of setting up protocols and expectations. Another key to having robust discussions was developing questions/topics that promote interaction and not just answers.
I start the semester with a statement in my syllabus that outlines my expectations:

Discussion Boards and Blogs Grading Criteria….

1. Demonstration of understanding of the issues involved in the posted question or material.

2. Response incorporates material and/or concepts from the course in a relevant way.

3. Response makes a meaningful contribution to the discussion.

4. Response takes a personal viewpoint that is supported by evidence, facts, and/or especially information from the course.

5. The quality of the writing of the response is appropriate for a 200-level college course. The response is written in complete sentences and paragraphs with correct spelling and punctuation.

I write discussion topics that promote reflection and opinion.

From Abnormal Psychology:
What is the purpose of Punishment for criminal behavior? The ultimate punishment is captal punishment. Is this really a punishment or is it something else?

Should we punish someone for criminal behavior if they lack the mental capacity to understand the fact that they are being punished? In the made-for-tv movie Dead Man Out, a psychiatrist, played by Danny Glover is hired to evaluate a deathrow inmate to help determine if he is faking “insanity.” This movie was based on a real-life article by a psychiatrist who was asked to do such an evaluation. The problem here is that the law prevents the execution of mentally ill, or at least “insane” individuals. What if the fact of being on deathrow for many years leads to such a condition? It is not unusual for people to be on deathrow for many years. The average is now almost 15 years. Should a mental health professional do such an evaluation? A psychiatrist is bound by oath to provide help to those in need of care. Should such a psychiatrist/psychologist treat a person in those conditions in order to help restore their mental health and “certify” them to be qualified to be executed? If so, does that break their oath to “do no harm” to their patients since doing so will result in their execution?
(The links to the movie information and statistics may not show in the blog)

My role in the Discussion Board has been to keep the discussion on topic and to bring in relevant information from the course material that students do not bring up.

I agree with the webinar presenter that the lifeblood of the online class is student interaction. From the time I began thinking about teaching online in 1999, my only hesitation was this issue. I was always confident in my ability to convey the content of the course via the web. My first experience with online learning was to take an Astronomy class online and it was a wonderful experience with a master instructor. I was convinced that the web and I could unite to provide the student with a wealth of content to provide a viable alternative to the traditional classroom. What I struggled with was how I would translate my own presence in the classroom into the virtual reality of the online environment. Otherwise, what was the point of having a live psychologist teaching the class? What I was struggling with was the question of how to provide “substantive interaction.” In the early days, I resolved this issue by requiring my students to participate in weekly live, online “chats” in which I discussed, gave examples, asked and answered questions, and got to know my students. When the first webinar and discussion board tools began to be available, I immediately became an avid proponent of these innovations.