Posts Tagged ‘online discussion’

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Revising Inside a Classroom Management System

posted: 8.23.11 by Steve Bernhardt

It’s typical for writing teachers to use peer review to help students learn to revise. And as I pointed out in a recent Bits post, we can’t assume that even practicing scientists in companies that rely on documentation are able to offer effective review commentary. Doing so is a refined and complex art.

One reason I like classroom management software is that it provides an environment for structuring and facilitating peer review of draft papers. I now use Sakai, an open-source program, to which we migrated following not-so-good experiences with WebCT (now Blackboard). Neither application is designed for working with classes of writers, and each is clumsy in its own way. But both make it possible to exchange drafts, collect commentary, and create the conditions for learning.

The Forum tool in Sakai, a bulletin board for threaded discussions, offers a pretty good setup for peer review. The instructor can create a topic thread for a given assignment, and students can post their drafts for peer review, along with a message describing the state of the draft and identifying places that need help, under that thread. Posting to the forum makes review a public activity—everyone can see who has posted when. Students can tell whose draft is advanced and whose is sketchy. They can get a sense for how other writers are handling the assignment. They will likely feel a bit of pressure from putting their draft out in front of classmates, where saving face is more critical than in any interaction with an instructor. [read more]

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Categories: Peer Review, Teaching with Technology
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