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honoriartist

Online Teaching Tip

Spark Debate

Discussion boards are extremely useful tools to help students interact with each other in asynchronous sessions and even to spark debate by posing thoughtful questions. In synchronous classes, Allatta finds that chat emojis work the best for stimulating discussions and creating debate among students.

“I use these to get different opinions,” she says. “I’ll give them a few choices—if you think X, put up a check mark; if you think Y, put up an X mark; and if you think Z, put up a smiley face. I tell them to leave them up on the screen. Everybody has to have an opinion, so you have to be willing to wait a minute for everybody to choose.”

She then starts the discussion by calling on a few students to explain their viewpoints. She creates debate among students by posing questions in a fun way. For example, she might ask, Mary, tell Billy why he’s wrong. She uses this tactic often to bring fun and excitement to the material, which in turn gets students talking and debating. Debating in this way also shows students that there is no wrong answer. “Strategy is about tradeoffs,” says Allatta. “The purpose of these exercises and setting up debates is to get students to understand these tradeoffs.”

You Shouldn’t Be the Only One Talking in Your Digital Classroom

Tips and Exercises to Bring Students into the Conversation featuring Joan Allatta and Paul Myers

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