Knowing when to let go - pedagogy for online chat

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Image source: xJasonRogersx, ‘It’s a small world’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/17642817@N00/2513014001/

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Information source: CLEX report, 2009, http://www.jisc.ac.uk/heweb2 (accessed 5 March 2010) Image source: timsamoff, ‘Something Tells Me I’m Into Something Good’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/44124439915@N01/144022496/

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Image source: phil h, ‘lost’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/14318462@N00/67301719/

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Source: CLEX report, 2009, http://www.jisc.ac.uk/heweb2 (accessed 5 March 2010)

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Image source: greekadman, http://www.flickr.com/photos/99037763@N00/2314463032/

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Image source: Giara, http://www.flickr.com/photos/11009887@N00/4244114882/ Initiation can be thought of as any conversation starter – it may or may not succeed and therefore can be considered either a ‘Marker’, which does lead somewhere or an ‘Orphan’ which doesn’t.

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Image source: Giara, http://www.flickr.com/photos/11009887@N00/4244114882/ Question types fall into 6 main categories – direct elicitation, cued elicitation, exploratory questions, prompts, checks and rhetorical questions. Direct elicitation - Direct request for knowledge / information Cued elicitation - Cue for right answer to be provided, e.g. the answer is known to the first party but cues are provided to draw it out from the other party Exploratory question - Open ended and exploratory e.g. “what do you think about…?” Prompt - Prompt for further responses e.g. “is there anything else…?” Check - Question asking for clarification e.g. “I think you mean… is that right?” Rhetorical question - Question which does not anticipate a response

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Image source: Giara, http://www.flickr.com/photos/11009887@N00/4244114882/ Responses can take several different forms There are several types of responses which might be observed in an educational conversation. In written communication there are slightly more than normal because acknowledgement of spelling errors (usually by the person who typed the incorrect word) also appears as a form of response to the self. Reject - Rejects statement, e.g. “I don’t think so” Challenge - Statement requesting reasoning or expansion of ideas, “Could you give an example…?” Repeat - Repeats previous idea or statement without development Acknowledge - Shows contribution has been understood Evaluate - Evaluative comment, e.g. “I like that point” Reflection on general experience - General reflection, e.g. “I’ve often felt that…” Reflection on studies - Refers to studies, e.g. “I remember reading it in Block 4…” Respond - Response to direct question, may complete an exchange Develop - Comment which develops the topic of the discussion Inform - Statement providing information Off-topic Comment -Comment which is not directly related to the discussion, e.g. “I’m hungry” Summarize - Summarizing discussion, e.g. “So what we’ve seen so far is…” Humour - Humorous response to earlier message Spelling - Spelling correction of word from earlier contribution

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Image source: ecstaticist, ‘Strength Over Head’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/41864721@N00/3446286013/ One of the primary roles of the tutor or teacher is to scaffold the learning of their students, and this scaffolding “does not involved simplifying the task; it holds the task difficulty constant, while simplifying the child’s [or adult learner] roles by means of graduated assistance from the adult / expert” (Greenfield, 1984 in Tharp and Gallimore, 1991)

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The majority of contributions of the tutor in the online chat came in the form of questions - with over two thirds of their speech being of the type ‘Questions’.

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When a tutor is present, only one in twenty contributions will be in the form of a question… indicating a level of passivity / lack of ownership of the conversation. 9 out of 10 of their interjections are ‘responses’. Responding to the questions which are being posed by the tutor… but generating little in the way of independent questioning.

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Interestingly enough, however, when the tutor wasn’t present, there was a significant increase by 9% in the amount of questions students were asking of one another and their level of ‘responses’ dropped by 17%. It might be said that students were more actively engaged in the discussion.

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Image source: hodge, ‘Post Season’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/hodge/81800813/ What happens to the type of responses students make when the tutor’s present?

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Image source: hodge, ‘Post Season’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/hodge/81800813/

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Image source: hodge, ‘Post Season’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/hodge/81800813/

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Image source: bionicteaching, ‘When the Emu Says Hello…’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/29096601@N00/1464697415/

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Image source: bionicteaching, ‘When the Emu Says Hello…’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/29096601@N00/1464697415/

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Image source: hodge, ‘Post Season’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/hodge/81800813/

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Image source: hodge, ‘Post Season’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/hodge/81800813/

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Image source: Jano De Cesare, ‘Scripta manent’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/27443110@N07/2978128591/

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Image source: brunkfordbraun, ‘Idea’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/67961268@N00/330793963/

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Image source: Repoort, ‘Anybody excited?’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/41317431@N00/2579139642/

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Use chat with a clear purpose in mind. You want to encourage academic discussion and conversation so give your students a chance to think about it a little beforehand… and make sure it relates to their work!

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Introduce the activity – but not in the chat session itself. The introduction can take place either face-to-face or online and keep group size small (max of 5 participants), and if you want them to use the technology in a meaningful way, run a few sessions over a period of time so that the technology itself isn’t a barrier. Encourage them to use the tools they feel comfortable with.

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Don’t ask students to come up with ‘an’ answer. This can stifle debate and discussion. Instead, encourage them to discuss a particular question – which they can have an opinion on on several different levels (the discussion topic itself should not be a barrier to participation).

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For an online chat session a suggested time limit of 30 – 45 minutes will be enough to get a conversation going, but not too much that people run out of things to say or it becomes too intense. Also, allow them to select a time which suits them in which to hold their chat session, but be the facilitator of that organisation. A tool like www.doodle.com can be extremely helpful in narrowing options but allowing people to express preferences. All of these choices should be made at least a week before the session is held, and a reminder sent out to all that the chat will take place in the day before it happens.

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Encourage students to share their findings with others. This rounds off the activity, but also helps to ensure that they remain focused on the chat, i.e. it will be discussed in a plenary session – again, that session might be in a discussion forum or within a seminar… even if they only provide a transcript and offer some feedback on how it went, it’s important that the activity has a start, a middle and a finish.

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Do not try to be a participant in the conversation itself… unless you are wanting to make specific points which have very right / wrong answers. If you want to encourage exploratory conversation where students draw on their studies, ask questions of one another and develop their ideas… in other words, where they ‘own’ the chat – then simply start the session off and then leave them to it.

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Image source: Greything, ‘Today I am a worrier’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/8052186@N03/3649577403/

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Image source, blakie, ‘light #2’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/41066937@N00/84994761/ When looking at the difference between the chat session with the tutor and the one where the tutor wasn’t present, the difference in off-topic chat was only 1% more when there was no tutor. As long as the session isn’t too long, the discussion topic is accessible and the scaffolding / activity design has led into the activity… and leads out again, students can more readily remain focused.

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Image source, blakie, ‘light #2’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/41066937@N00/84994761/ You don’t have to ‘teach’ if you want students to explore ideas.!

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Image source, blakie, ‘light #2’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/41066937@N00/84994761/ Just enough, not too much… and light scaffolding where you give enough detail to start students off, but not too much to remove ownership from them helps to support students in their use of instant messaging.

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Image source, blakie, ‘light #2’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/41066937@N00/84994761/ Just enough, not too much… and light scaffolding where you give enough detail to start students off, but not too much to remove ownership from them helps to support students in their use of instant messaging.

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Image source, blakie, ‘light #2’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/41066937@N00/84994761/ So, it’s not just freeform ‘go and use instant messaging’, but careful, considered, purposeful use with small groups where everyone can be heard and it isn’t too intimidating for students who don’t type quickly, can be highly effective.

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Enhancing life-long learning, teaching and research through information resources and services

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Knowing when to let go – a pedagogy for online chat in teaching Sarah Horrigan, Senior eLearning Developer

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Nine out of ten students will be regular users of a social networking site on entry to university… (CLEX, 2009) Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/17642817@N00/2513014001/

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Students are comfortable using instant messaging Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/44124439915@N01/144022496/

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… and are familiar with using it Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/44124439915@N01/144022496/

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… but we give them little direction on how to use those skills effectively (Ipsos MORI, 2008) Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/14318462@N00/67301719/

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Familiar Unfamiliar Comfortable with using Not comfortable with using Instant messaging Text message admin updates Administrative materials online Using social networks such as Facebook as a formal part of the course Submitting assignments online Using podcasts Making podcasts Making wikis Using existing online social networks to discuss course work Emailing tutors Course-specific materials online Posting questions online to tutors Online quiz assessment Web CT Source: CLEX report, 2009, http://www.jisc.ac.uk/heweb2

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Familiar Unfamiliar Comfortable with using Not comfortable with using Instant messaging Text message admin updates Administrative materials online Using social networks such as Facebook as a formal part of the course Submitting assignments online Using podcasts Making podcasts Making wikis Using existing online social networks to discuss course work Emailing tutors Course-specific materials online Posting questions online to tutors Online quiz assessment Web CT Source: CLEX report, 2009, http://www.jisc.ac.uk/heweb2

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Unfamiliar Instant messaging Text message admin updates Administrative materials online Submitting assignments online Using podcasts Making podcasts Making wikis Using existing online social networks to discuss course work Emailing tutors Course-specific materials online Posting questions online to tutors Online quiz assessment Web CT Familiar Comfortable with using Not comfortable with using Using social networks such as Facebook as a formal part of the course Source: CLEX report, 2009, http://www.jisc.ac.uk/heweb2

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Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/99037763@N00/2314463032/ What do we expect to see in educationally rich conversation?

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Initiation Questions Responses Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11009887@N00/4244114882/

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Initiation Questions Responses Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11009887@N00/4244114882/

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Initiation Questions Responses Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11009887@N00/4244114882/

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Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/41864721@N00/3446286013// So, what’s the role of the tutor?

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They ask a LOT of questions!

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… and students… don’t

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… and when the tutor’s not there?

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How do students respond when the tutor’s there? Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hodge/81800813/

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Up 24% Closed response Reflecting on studies Fell 2% Up 8% Fell 10% Reflecting generally Developing ideas + more closed less new ideas –

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Up 24% Closed response Reflecting on studies Fell 2% Up 8% Fell 10% Reflecting generally Developing ideas less independent? + –

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Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/29096601@N00/1464697415/ Did the questions change?

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Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/29096601@N00/1464697415/ Yes

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Up over 4% Prompts + more ‘teaching’ less exploring –

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Up over 4% Prompts + less flowing? –

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What’s this ‘Pedagogy for online chat’ then? Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27443110@N07/2978128591/ Is there a pedagogy for using online chat?

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No

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sorry

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but…

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… I do have some ideas Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/67961268@N00/330793963/

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Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/41317431@N00/2579139642/ Give them the right building blocks

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Clear purpose

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Clear introduction

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Clear topic

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Clear timings

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Clear plenary

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Then…

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Clear off!

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Isn’t that a bit free-form? Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8052186@N03/3649577403/

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Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/41066937@N00/84994761/ Not really

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Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/41066937@N00/84994761/ Scaffold appropriately

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Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/41066937@N00/84994761/ Scaffold lightly

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Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/41066937@N00/84994761/ and

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Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/41066937@N00/84994761/ … let students own it

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All images are Creative Commons licensed work. Thanks to: xJasonRogersx, ‘It’s a small world’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/17642817@N00/2513014001/ timsamoff, ‘Something Tells Me I’m Into Something Good’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/44124439915@N01/144022496/ phil h, ‘lost’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/14318462@N00/67301719/ greekadman, ‘a conversation between black and white’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/99037763@N00/2314463032/ Giara, ‘minimal door’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/11009887@N00/4244114882/ ecstaticist, ‘Strength Over Head’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/41864721@N00/3446286013/ hodge, ‘Post Season’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/hodge/81800813/ bionicteaching, ‘When the Emu Says Hello…’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/29096601@N00/1464697415/ Jano De Cesare, ‘Scripta manent’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/27443110@N07/2978128591/ brunkfordbraun, ‘Idea’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/67961268@N00/330793963/ Repoort, ‘Anybody excited?’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/41317431@N00/2579139642/ Greything, ‘Today I am a worrier’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/8052186@N03/3649577403/ blakie, ‘light #2’, http://www.flickr.com/photos/41066937@N00/84994761/

Summary: A presentation on a proposed pedagogy for using online chat in teaching within Higher Education looking at a small-group, within participants research project by Sarah Horrigan, Nottingham Trent University.

Tags: ntuedu sarahhorrigan elearning chat pedagogy

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