Comparing Online Student Engagement in Discussion vs. Annotation

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Brief Abstract

I designed two types of assignments for an online course with open education resources to foster student-to-student and student-to-content interaction: 1) online discussions, and 2) online annotations. Based on learning analytics and student surveys, I compare online student engagement with peers and digital texts in these two types of assignments.

Presenters

Christopher Schedler is Professor of English at Central Washington University, where he teaches a wide variety of courses in American and Multicultural Literatures, Latino and Latin American Studies, and American Indian Studies. He has developed and taught multiple online/hybrid courses and offered numerous faculty workshops on the use of instructional technologies. He served as Faculty Director and Executive Director of Multimodal Learning from 2012-18. In this position, he supported online learning, distance education, and use of instructional technologies across the university. He also implemented a suite of faculty development programs, including faculty fellows, faculty learning communities, faculty institute for online teaching, and master online teacher certification.

Extended Abstract

A new online “Introduction to Literature” course developed with an open education textbook provided the opportunity for enhancing student engagement with peers and digital literary texts. In Teaching Online, Claire Howell Major defines student engagement as “the students’ willingness and desire to participate and be successful in a learning process that leads them to higher-level thinking and long-term understanding,” which involves student motivation, attention, involvement, and intellectual effort. I designed two types of assignments for literary analysis to foster student-to-student interaction and student-to-content interaction: 1) online discussions, and 2) online annotations. Both types of assignments align with what Russell Edgerton termed “pedagogies of engagement,” as students select from multiple question prompts, engage in close reading of digital texts, and interact with their peers in an online learning community.

Based on analytics provided through Canvas (using the Threadz LTI) and Perusall, as well as an informal survey of students, I compare online student engagement with their peers and with digital texts in these different types of assignments. As Tamara Girardi notes in her contribution on online student engagement in Applied Pedagogies (Scheg and Ruefman eds.), “online faculty must carefully analyze, select, implement, and assess what tools best create an online community and engage students in the online environment.” In my online course, student survey responses suggest that student-to-student interaction is better facilitated through online discussions, while student-to-content interaction is better facilitated through online annotations. Learning analytics provide alternative ways to evaluate levels of student engagement through frequency of postings, word count, number/direction of interactions, and active reading time.

In this Discovery Session, my presentation with audio narration will be provided to virtual session participants through Voice Thread along with interactive discussion questions. Audience members will have the opportunity to respond to the presentation and questions asynchronously to discuss best practices for creating and facilitating online assignments that foster student engagement.

Session Objectives:

  • Develop online assignments that foster student-to-student interaction and student-to-content interaction
  • Compare learning analytics to evaluate levels of student engagement in different types of online assignments
  • Discuss best practices for creating and facilitating online assignments that engage students