Forums - Your Online Classroom!

The 'heart and soul' of your online course

According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, asynchronous and dialogue are defined as follows:

Asynchronous = Not existing or happening at the same time.

Dialogue = Conversation between two or more people.

Forums allow you to have a conversation with your professor and other students in your class, even though the conversation will not exist or happen all together at the same time such as a face-to-face classroom discussion.  Conversations will be written versus verbal.

The purpose of asynchronous dialogue in the online classroom is to help you understand the relevance of course concepts. Through dialogues, you will demonstrate your understanding of concepts with your classroom peers and your professor.  Simply reading course material is not sufficient.  Rather, the extent to which you can discuss and apply what you have read is the level of learning our online courses seek.

Learning how to write in a thorough, yet concise manner is a skill to gain. This means that the quality of each posted message must be excellent. Your professor will comment throughout the dialogue to help guide you and the entire class toward this desired result.

All of the following types of interaction are expected from each student throughout the course.

1. Answering all or part of posed questions by citing concepts covered in assigned readings.
2. Asking specific questions about specific concepts in the readings or challenging statements in the
3. Taking a position based on the concepts in the reading and extrapolating from it.

Quality of posted messages is measured by several factors: Students must demonstrate comprehension of the course material. Writing must include appropriate material researched beyond the assigned readings. Students must demonstrate critical thinking in applying course concepts and separate personal opinion from reasoned conclusion. Keep in mind that course dialogue is designed as scholarly not personal interaction among group peers.

Following are recent comments from Houghton students and professors alike regarding their experiences with online learning and the value that asynchronous dialogue brought to the online classroom.

• The advantages [of online learning] are that an online course is more convenient and still challenging,
  and that was a great benefit at this time in my life. The only disadvantage is that the rapport between
  professor and students might have lacked a bit because we never met face-to-face; still, the relationships
  developed far more thoroughly than I expected.
• I think that the overall experience for me and for the students in the online experiment was quite positive.
  The best part of the course… was the forums. These produced lively and mutually insightful conversation
  about the readings and were quite helpful. There were a few people who did the bare minimum with
  respect to postings in the forums – but most people responded freely and frequently.
• The forums were excellent opportunities for student-to-student interaction, and there was PLENTY of that.
   It was spirited but also civil and friendly.

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