Randy at open artifact posts an interesting perspective on the ‘pro’ article I mentioned yesterday. He sympathises especially with the statement:
“…students who are not actively participating in the learning community are not assisting other students.”
And reflects on his own efforts to facilitate participation, especially in relation to the structure of his courses, the use of rubrics and mandating (or not) participation.
I’d agree wholeheartedly that ‘flexibility’ in its purest form (and often, unfortunately, as is advocated by many e-learning sorts) is not really a good idea. People need structure, need to be held and guided, and that is the facilitators role.
As for mandating participation though, am not too sure… I and others have been toying with the kind of assessment criteria that might work with online communication (e.g. Engages with other learners ideas / offers constructive and critical comment) but each time I approach it I instinctually feel like there’s something not quite right with that approach.
Either way though, reading other peoples experiences of working with these challenges is a stimulating and valuable process!