transplanted goose

Tips for Teaching Online
Discussion Forum Welcome Message

Subject: Welcome!
Article No. 2: posted by Colleen Bell on Sun, Mar. 28, 1999, 22:21

Welcome toContours of Cyberspace. This is the discussion forum, where most of your interaction with other students in the course will take place. Think of this as your classroom: much like you would carry out discussions, conversations, and debates verbally with classmates in a traditional classroom, here you do the same thing in writing, but with a difference: you are not all in the same place at the same time.

Because your conversations are written, however, they are more permanent than those that take place in a traditional classroom setting. Please take time to compose your messages (you can preview and edit as many times as you need to, or compose them offline and paste them into the "compose" window), pay attention to grammar and punctuation, and be sensitive to the language used — written communication does not have the same kinds of nonverbal clues as spoken communication does. Your written words may be understood somewhat differently by your reader than you intended. If you use humor or satire, please indicate so.

Most of your interaction will take place within your assigned group. However, you are free to wander through other discussions taking place and to participate in those discussions, as long as you continue to participate in your assigned forum and interact with your group.

You should think of these discussions as academic conversations or debates; each time you post a message, you should contribute something new — an idea, a rebuttal, a different viewpoint, a new argument — that furthers the discussion. Some weeks your group will be asked to reach consensus, others it is enough to carry on a lively, spirited conversation where none of you necessarily agree with each other. Be sure to cite your sources, where appropriate.

Just a note about the word "consensus." Webster's defines consensus as "a general agreement; a collective opinion." Consensus does not necessarily involve complete agreement; rather, it is a conclusion that you can live with — a compromise, of sorts. As long as the result is something with which every member of the group feels comfortable, you have reached consensus.

If you have questions about process or about the course in general that you feel may be of interest to your classmates, please post them to this main forum. You may also use email to contact me if you don't feel comfortable posting your comments publicly.

I hope that your experiences in this course live up to (or better yet, exceed) your expectations, and I invite your comments, suggestions, constructive criticism, and complaints at any time. I hope you'll find me open to your feedback, as well as flexible; this is a huge topic, with many different avenues of exploration available to us; if there is a direction you (as a class) would like to explore more fully, let me know — I will try to accommodate you. And, of course, your final project is an opportunity to focus on a particular interest.

Good luck, and have fun! I intend to.

Colleen Bell

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