Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tuesday Tech Tip: Reading, Writing, & Listening with Online Discussion Boards

When we think about giving students opportunities to synthesize ideas from multiple sources, it typically involves providing different articles for kids to read and synthesize.  However, in addition to reading and responding to written sources or graphics, our students must also be good online listeners, able to "integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally."*  As teachers, we need to be sure we're providing opportunities to have kids read, write, and listen in a digital environment.

One option for this type of activity is to use Schoology's discussion boards. Not only are they a great entry point into digital writing, but they also provide a way for students to listen, share ideas and "participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively."**  Here are a few suggestions for including a listening component into a discussion board.

1.  Use the recording tool built into Schoology.  As Enterprise users of Schoology, we have the ability to record up to 11 minutes of audio or 10 minutes of webcam video into just about anything, including discussion boards.  If you want to record into Schoology, use the microphone icon (and you can record audio and video on iOS and Android devices as well).  You could read aloud the version of a story or article, provide a link to another resource, and ask students to respond (or have students record themselves and have their peers listen and respond either in writing or using audio).

2.  Upload an audio or video file.  If you have something already stored on your computer or mobile device, you can upload it into the discussion board using the file icon or by choose "Image/Media" under the "Insert Content" menu.  (Be very mindful of copyright, and don't repost something that we can't legally share with students.)  If you are looking for materials you or your students didn't create, the Open Educational Resource Commons is a great place to look (and all copyright permissions are listed for each resource).

3.  Embed web-based video or audio content. If you can get embed code, Schoology allows you to put that into almost everything -- tests/quizzes, assignments, pages, and (you guessed it) discussion boards. You can either paste in the embed code using the link icon, or you can use the "Insert Content" icon to paste in the embed code into the actual topic itself (see animated example on the left).

Need help on using embed code?  See this post.

Don't forget that you can add multiple types of sources into an online discussion.  Images, files, recordings, and links can be included or embedded in a single post so that students can draw from multiple sources for their responses.   For those who are familiar with Google Presentations, those can also be used to embed multiple sources into Schoology (see Amber Paynter's post for more information).


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