We know that providing learners with an opportunity to communicate with others can enhance the overall learning experience. But do instructors’ messages on discussion boards and other similar social tools improve learning? A 2017 article from the journal Online Learning suggests that the characteristics, but not the frequency, of these messages can positively influence learner outcomes. Specifically, both instructional and conversational-style posts from instructors correlated with an increase in learners’ academic performance and their perceptions of the instructor and course quality.
So, the next time you’re teaching an online class or workshop, jump into the chat. Your learners will probably appreciate an opportunity to get to know you, and you could be positively influencing their opinion of you, their feelings about the course, and their own progress.
In this relatively small mixed-methods study, two types of messages from instructors had a positive correlation with learning outcomes: conversational and instructional.
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Hoey, R. (2017). A Critical Analysis of Characteristics that Influence the Effect of Instructor Discussion Interaction on Student Outcomes. Online Learning, 21(4).
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