Teaching Strategies: Discussion 'Pods' & Remote Learning
In Spring 2020, I team-taught a Denison Seminar course, STEM Education, Democracy and Poverty in South Africa with Dr. Sarah Wolff from the Mathematics Department. To engage students in the reading and build community, we expanded on our discussion boards.
We organized students in groups of five or six in “discussion pods” using NoteBowl. After reading the selected material, students would post two thoughts and a question to their discussion board. Each student member commented on two different posts in a 24-hour period. As professors, we chose not to insert our own comments (through feedback) until the discussion was completed. We were pleased by the rich discussion that ensued. We saw the students’ bonds grow even stronger as they supported each other during the challenges of the spring.
Looking to the fall, I will continue to use this format in my Education courses, especially on days when I do not see students face to face in the classroom. As a low-stakes evaluation, I am considering several rubrics that can be used to effectively evaluate the students’ contributions. In addition to written discussion boards, I will incorporate audio and video discussion where students submit a 2-3 minute response to a given prompt. Pod members will post comments on two of these entries.