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The online component of our course has an email forum (a google group) for the year 1 students which is intended to have a function analagous to the discussions which you have in the classroom.

Because of the increased amount of time which is available for the students to reflect on the questions asked of them (due to the assynchronous nature of these discussions), I have expected that the majority of students will participate in these discussions.  Accordingly I have made the topics of discussion fairly important or even central to the students learning in some cases.

The problem that I’m having here is low participation.  In a discussion topic posted last week two students out of a class of 16 posted a response.  This discussion topic while it is not directly assessed, is based around developing an assessment instrument that the students will use in their major piece of assessment for the course.  I’ve been fairly disappointed with the response rate as a result.  I’ve extended the period of the discussion, and heavily pushed the point that this is a critical discussion for us to have, and that has led to contributions from 2 more students so far.

Maybe I’m expecting too much?  I guess if I compare this to a classroom discussion, I might get a similar response to some questions.

Does anyone have any ideas on how I can improve the response rate (short of making the students contributions an assessment item)?


Work on the Massage Therapy Educational Resources project is coming along.

There are now some good quality resources under many of the categories. Here’s a hand-picked selection

At present it’s a project of one. I’ve decided this semester that it makes sense for me to continue teaching the online aspects of the programme (apart from Bioscience), and to let our other staff concentrate on the F2F teaching.

I’m hopeful that in the future other massage educators will get involved in this collaborative development, but at present this is not happening. Hopefully the quality of resources available through the project
will encourage people to get involved.

I’ve been reviewing the literature relevant to my upcoming research project, and came across this, which I thought looked useful.

This is a set of instructions which Susan Levine gives to her students prior to any assessed online assynchronous discussions (2002, as cited in Caplan & Graham, 2008).  I think they’re useful as a template because of their clarity and comprehensive nature.

  1. The instructor will start each discussion by posting one or more questions at the beginning of each week (Sunday or Monday). The discussion will continue until the following Sunday night, at which time the discussion board will close for that week.
  2. Please focus on the questions posted. But do bring in related thoughts and material, other readings, or questions that occur to you from the ongoing discussion.
  3. You are expected to post at least two substantive messages for each discussion question. Your postings should reflect an understanding of the course material.
  4. Your postings should advance the group’s negotiation of ideas and meanings about the material; that is, your contributions should go beyond a “ditto.” Some ways you can further the discussion include
    1. expressing opinions or observations. These should be offered in depth and supported by more than personal opinion
    2. making a connection between the current discussion and previous discussions, a personal experience, or concepts from the readings
    3. commenting on or asking for clarification of another student’s statement
    4. synthesizing other students’ responses
    5. posing a substantive question aimed at furthering the group’s understanding


Caplan, D., Graham, R. (2008). The development of online courses. In T. Anderson (Eds.), The theory and practice of online learning (2nd ed., p. 245-264). Canada: AU Press, Athabasca University.