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Enhancing Online Course Discussions through Conference Roles and Blogs

The discussion forum plays a central role in our online graduate-level advanced research methods course, providing opportunities for students to demonstrate knowledge and connect and learn with each other and the instructor. It is often the closest approximation of the kinds of conversations that occur in the face-to-face environment. However, the asynchronous format, along with vast differences in student age, profession, family commitments, and degree program, can negatively affect the quality of these discussions. Seeking to improve the quality of students' contributions to the discussion forum, we decided to use Glowacki-Dudka and Barnett's (2007) conference style roles. We also implemented a blog technique to better understand the student experience with these roles.

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