When teaching a course, do you find that students are using their own preferred platforms to communicate rather than the ones you provide them in the course, such as discussion forums and Collaborate Ultra? I wrote an email in response to an instructor on this topic.

Some things to keep in mind when deciding how students should communicate with each other:

  • Students will always use their preferred method of communication, but instructors need to provide the tools (affordances) for them to complete assignments and activities, but many (even most?) students go to their own methods.
  • Blackboard’s tools, such as the discussion forum and journals, do not reflect the robust platforms that are used in business, so how about offering an more exciting and industrial standard option of communicating, UFV’s M365 Teams. This is new, but I think students would be very interested in using this app rather than sharing their own personal information with other students to communicate in Whatsapp.
  • One other idea is to have students convince you that they get 10/10 in participation by having them complete a “Contribution to the Learning Community” assignment, The have to give themselves a score out of 10 and in 250 words describe why they give themselves that score and provide 5 or more pieces of evidence to back it up.  
  • If you have done all that can be done regarding participation grades, then you have made it clear that you can’t mark for participation if you can’t access their communications. The ball is now in their court.

And for residence of British Columbia, Canada or other areas that have a strict privacy restriction like FIPPA.

  • Because of FIPPA laws, instructors can recommend apps, but we can’t mandate that students use them if they have to log in, which is why Padlet is so popular. Padlet posts can be all anonymous, so it can be mandated.
  • FIPPA laws have been suspended until Jan. 1, 2022, and likely thereafter (see the attached story: British Columbia Extends COVID-19 Related Data Residency Exemptions for Health Care and Public Bodies), so Google docs or whatever can be used in the classroom without asking for consent first.

These are a few ideas that may help in grading participation mark. Let me know if you would like more details on any of the above.

Ken

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