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  • Writer's pictureCurt Davidson

Ditch the Discussion Board: Encouraging Reflection in Elearning

I consider two main factors for facilitation consideration when encouraging reflection from students. The first is time. How much time do we let pass so students can grasp learning, but no so much that they've already moved on to their next experience? The second is by what method do facilitate? The default in EE programs is usually large-group discussions or journal activities. These activities cater to introverts or extroverts. In any event, thoughtful planning and purpose behind our reflection are critical to engaging student learning in the experiential process.

If you're like me, you're sick of trying to get students to talk in a large group discussion via zoom. Likewise, it's hard to control "reflection time" when students are in their homes and unsupervised. So, how can we find a healthy balance of facilitating reflection in an online learning environment? This post is about just that. I developed or borrowed the following techniques during the pandemic that I think I'll keep around even though we're returning to "normal" here at Alpenglow.

  1. Miro or another whiteboard platform - I love interacting with the students during their reflection time. A collaborative board allows me to use some of the old facilitation techniques I outlined in the Outdoor Facilitators Handbook, including having the students rank their experience on a scale of 1-10 or post a picture or photo summarizing their experience. I can then have them post a short discussion post, either synchronously or asychnonsouly, to further dive into their reflection.

    1. Example

Flipgrid for VLOGS - A VLOG is merely a video-based blog post where students film themselves reflecting on the course or learning content. I enjoy using this method because students today feel more comfortable than ever filming themselves. It also allows me to connect with each student and hear a reflection from everyone about a given topic or curriculum set. I use this all the time in my course at Long Beach State University using the Behavioral First Responder Curriculum.

  1. Small group breakout rooms via Zoom - using a platform to facilitate small breakout rooms is essential. Knowing how to use that feature is even more critical. I've found that small group discussion via breakout rooms is far richer than facilitating a large group discussion in Zoom.

    1. How to use breakout rooms in Zoom

Finally, don't forget that you can combine any number of these activities to foster reflection. One particular mashup I like is using a collaborative board WHILE students are in Zoom breakout sessions.

Alright, that's all the tips for this post. If you have some really powerful, impactful ways to get students to reflect in the virtual space, please leave a comment below. Thanks for checking out this blog post, and we hope to see you back here in the future!

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