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Chaired panel Elisabeth Skinner Engaging Students in Online Discussion - or Not? University of Gloucestershire

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  • Chaired panel Elisabeth Skinner Engaging Students in Online Discussion - or Not? University of Gloucestershire
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  • The Problem Poor levels of participation in online discussion despite assessment despite discussion of benefits despite skills workshops
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  • The Student Experience 25 students Level 1, Semester 1, studying heritage, environmental, landscape and community management Assessed online discussion with ten tasks in five sessions based on Salmons 5-stage model over eight weeks with five deadlines Skills audit, skills workshops, monitoring performance, reflective activity, interviews
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  • Being Late 16% never late, 16% always late 72% late for activities 2, 3 and 4 40% very late for activity 2 24% very late for activity 3 60% very late for activity 4
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  • The Literature Community development the creative development of people social inclusion empowering people Teaching and learning personal development knowledge construction in learning communities engaging with the curriculum
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  • Benefits of Participation Capacity building skills and confidence to tackle individual and collective challenges changing power structures Through participation not before benefits are somewhat intangible and it is likely that people will be unaware of these benefits until they take part (Dalziel 2007:26)
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  • Outsiders The squandering of a considerable resource of social and human capital (Moseley 2003:90) People may appear apathetic but community development work can find the vigour, initiative and skills which in fact exist in them (Henderson and Thomas 2002:106)
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  • Barriers to Participation Community spaces are dominated by strong insiders. Those in power prefer the strong insiders. Outsiders find insiders daunting. Outsiders are beset by a plethora of fears. Outsiders find that community spaces can be inhospitable places.
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  • Choosing to Participate Variety of personal interests and needs (not a homogeneous mass) issues that are important to them feeling strongly about outcomes wanting to influence outcomes
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  • Encouraging participation Simply encouraging more people to participate seems a somewhat forlorn hope (Skidmore et al 2006:xi) Reach out into a space where the outsiders feel safe and comfortable Make personal contact using the right language
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  • Motivation Minimal motivation and motivation nil I really had no clue about management and its principles. When I found out that many of the tasks involved applying management principles to heritage my motivation improved.
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  • Understanding of Learning Learning as personal development provides motivation or determination to participate. Learning as the acquisition of knowledge does not provide motivation or determination and therefore hinders participation.
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  • Re-designing the activity Connect with the students emotional interest in their subject from the start Retain skills audit and workshops as opportunities for personal connection Give time and space for reflection on motivation at the start as well as at the end Retain personal support and feedback from both students and teacher
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  • Final Thoughts As teachers can we ignore the students who fail to participate? Do we have the resources and know-how to reach out to students, make personal contact and respond to their diversity?
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  • References BARNETT, R. and COATE, K., 2004. Engaging the Curriculum in Higher Education. Maidenhead: Open University Press. DALZIEL, D., HEWITT, E. and EVANS, L., 2007. Motivations and Barriers to Citizen Governance. London: Department of Communities and Local Government. ENTWISTLE, N., 2003. Occasional report 3: Concepts and conceptual frameworks underpinning the ETL Project. Edinburgh: ETL Project HENDERSON, P., and THOMAS, D.N., 2002 3rd ed. Skills in Neighbourhood Work. London: Routledge. JISC, undated. Understanding my Learning: Background and rationale. [accessed 27.11.06] MOON, J., 2004. A Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning. London: Routledge Falmer. MOSELEY, M., 2003. Rural Development: Principles and Practice. London: Sage SALMON, G., 2000. E-moderating: the key to teaching and learning online. London: Kogan Page. SKIDMORE, P., BOUND, K. and LOWNSBOROUGH, H., 2006. Community participation: Who benefits? York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.