Inquiry is once again being widely touted as basic to health and science instruction and, from an online perspective, the online discussion board can be a great way to improve student instruction and learning. While increasing participation is an obvious goal in courses that include frequent discussions and small-group work, it is also important in a lecture course. You can improve student participation in your online course by devoting time and thought to shaping the environment and planning each class session. Brainshark has allowed us to do this very task.
The potential for e-learning with Brainshark is very exciting. It has allowed us to take student discussion to the next level. Instructors can use it to present material to students, include questions, and then track which students have viewed and responded to the material. Using media in conjunction with a discussion board focuses discussion and provides reference for comments. We have discovered a number of advantages to using Brainshark for our online discussion.
First, it promotes student driven discussion. The first few slides provide links to resources regarding the weekly topic. Students then take a poll on which site they found most interesting. From there, they create a series of questions to post in the guest book and thus students tend to bring more of themselves into the conversation. Discussion is freer and more open, touching on a wider variety of issues. Second, it becomes a developing lecture. The Brainshark is attached to the lecture itself, which can then be used for the next class, students are adding to the lecture, which grows from class to class. Students contribute to an ongoing conversation with future classes. Third, using Brainshark helps to improve a social presence: Students find that the ability to hear their instructor and classmates improves the sense of social presence of others in the classroom. Finally, Brainshark helps to provide a better understanding of nuance. Students are better able to understand the nuances of discussion when they can hear the tone in someone’s voice.
As a result we have learned that 94% of the students who participated found the learning experience helpful. We also learned that 85% of the student who participated indicated that using Brainshark helped them feel that they were part of a community and that it helped motivate them to do better. Finally, 90% strongly agreed or agreed that using Brainshark enhanced their ability to understand visual concepts in the online science classroom.
The author of this post, Julia VanderMolen, is also the winner of our August customer success story iPad 2 drawing!