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To promote student-initiated and student-controlled and instructor-guided discussions of assigned readings, your class experiences, or to continue a class discussion. I also want you to learn how to provide supportive feedback, raise plausible alternatives for explanations or interpretations, express respectful disagreement, critical agreement, elaborate and supplement someone else's observations or points, find arguments and counter-arguments, separate evidence and interpretations, summarize and integrate each other's ideas, and, finally, ask for, provide, and receive help. I believe that people learn best when their contribution in the activity is valued and their participation is encouraged.
* Supportive feedback involves showing your genuine interest in someone's work. First of all, please, look for places in someone's contribution (e.g., a web message, group project, class discussion turn) that you do really like or are excited about (you can Copy & Paste this part of the original text and put it in brackets and quotation marks ["<text>"] and separate from your text with double Return in your Comment Window). Try hard to understand the authors' points and descriptions. If you can't understand something important for you, you can ask for clarification or elaboration (you really want to know some point or detail that seems to be missing or unclear in the text -- try to explain to the author why this unclear or missing detail or point is important for you).
* Raising plausible alternatives for explanations and interpretations involves probing and testing the strength of the presented conceptual ideas and evidence. This is a very power tool of science practices that helps to avoid wishful thinking, self-deception, or tacit biases. You should start raising plausible alternatives with re-stating and appreciating the author's position. It is also helpful to stress that you do not know which alternative, yours or the author's, is correct and invite the author to examine them both. You can propose ways to test which of the alternatives is more plausible and try to articulate what can be discriminative criteria. In this process, you should probably treat the author as a partner rather than as an opponent.
* Respectful disagreement involves appreciating differences between you and the author of the text you are commenting on. You should appreciate your opponent's contributions because even if it turns out that you are right and your opponent is wrong, the opponent's ideas have contributed to development of your (rightful) position. Disagreements should not be avoided or downplayed because they have been considered to be the core of scientific discourse, pushing participants to develop and transform conceptual ideas and searching for new evidence. It is very important to have doubts in both your understanding of the author's points and in your rightness. To check your understanding of the author's position, it is very helpful to try to summarize the author's points with stress that it is your interpretation of the author's views (starting your summary like, "If I understand you correctly,..." or "Please, correct me if I'm wrong..."). Doubts in your own rightness will hopefully preclude diverting a constructive discussion about informal learning and technology into non-constructive dispute about who is right.
* Critical agreement involves revealing and analyzing underlying rationales and assumptions of why you are in agreement with somebody else. Critical agreement helps to ensure that you are in agreement not because of emerging dynamics of grouping (or emerging cliques that can occur in a discussion) but because of solid ground based on reasoning. In some sense, people should put even more efforts for critical analysis of their agreements than to disagreements because the dynamics of disagreements by itself often promotes critical analysis while the dynamics of agreements does not. It also may occur that people may make similar statements based on very different rationales (even opposite) and in fact they are not in agreement.
* Separating evidence and interpretation involves transformation of observation into evidence and inquiry into research question. You can raise a question of what was actually seen by the author and how what was seen can be interpreted. It is probably useful to ask the author of the message or field note to ask for clarification of the described event and explain why this clarification and separation of evidence and interpretation is important for you (e.g., you may be concerned about alternative explanations for the event or some of your inquiries or disagreement or doubts in the way the author presented it). Express your own interest in the author's observation and/or interpretation. In this process, you should probably treat the author as a partner rather than as an opponent.
* Supplementing or elaborating the author's point or observation involves building on each other's conceptual ideas and/or observations. Finding a collaborator in your interests, inquiries, and research questions is probably one of the most exciting and rewarding events in scientific practices! Try to support and nurture this relationship by paying close attention to your collaborator's needs and interests.
* Summarizing and integrating ideas of other people involves discovering and articulating a common thread in several different people's contributions. This is an extremely powerful tool for advancing inquiries and building a community of researchers and learners.
* Asking for, providing, and receiving help involves appreciation of collaboration. I believe that both learning and scientific practice are essentially grounded in collaboration. I think that it is also important that you learn how to ask for writing help when you need it without being embarrassed.
I expect you to be present at all class meetings (actively contributing and listening to the discussion), read all messages and notes posted on our class Web and to write at least four discussion messages (please, let me know if it is difficult for you). There is no upper limit for number and length of discussion messages; however, they should be concise and straightforward.
I also expect that you will be concerned if you notice that some of your fellow students' messages are left without any comments or feedback. I feel it is both 1) responsibility of the student to try his or her best to provide messages that promote interests and comments of other class members and 2) responsibility of all members of the class community to make everybody feel included by helping the author to learn how to write interesting, exciting, and provocative messages.
Source for help
|1. If you can't attend a class meeting, you should contact your Instructor. If you missed the class, it is your responsibility to learn from your fellow students about the class content or announcements.||Your participation in the class meeting is crucial for your learning and learning of other students.||Instructor, other students|
|2. If you can't read all messages and notes and/or can't write minimum of four feedback comments and one discussion message per week, you should contact the Instructor.||Writing feedback comments is your courtesy to your fellow students and important contribution in your and their learning because we believe that addressing somebody else's interest makes scientific practice meaningful.||Instructor|
|3. If you feel that you or your fellow students are discouraged or excluded from participation in Wed discussion, please, ask for help other students and/or contact the Instructor.||I believe that safe and supporting environment promotes learning and development while discouragement and exclusion develops learning blocks and avoidance.||Other students, Instructor|
|4. You find a problematic uncomfortable interpersonal situation on our class Web site that you can't resolve yourself, please, ask for help other students and/or contact the Instructor.||see above plus it is Instructor's responsibility to ensure your well-being in the class.||Other students, Instructor|
|5. It is OK to make announcements via our class Web site that are related to the course. Unrelated announcement or messages are inappropriate. If you have doubts about appropriateness of your announcement, please, contact the Instructor in advance.||It is important to keep the Web discussion traffic as light as possible.||Use alternative e-mail messaging
for unrelated announcements|
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