Support online asynchronous discourse using LumiNUS Forum. LumiNUS forums have the potential to trigger in-depth conversations, of constructing a learning experience around collaboration as a means to deepen understanding. However, students need clear directions on what they are expected to do and by when, especially if discussion forums are to be used for assessment purposes. Grading rubrics in LumiNUS to help students understand the expectations and these also help instructors grade student work fairly. With the full participation of the class, instructors will be able to assess students’ learning as well as communication skills with online discussion forums.
The pedagogical rationale for online discussions is social constructivism, through which students derive or construct new knowledge through the process of social interaction with their peers and instructors (Vygotsky, 1978). The fundamental question to ask then would be ‘what are the approaches to learning through discussion’. Ellis et al. (2006) identifies four ways in which students use discussion forums for learning and is illustrated below: The first two approaches are typically at a surface learning level while the last two were deep learning methods.The first is for students to check and be sure that their ideas were the right ones and that they were learning the right things. Second, students used discussions as a way of collecting ideas. Third, they used it to develop ideas of others to improve their own thinking. And finally, they used it to challenge ideas of their own and that of others – peers and instructors — with the goal of arriving at a more complete understanding, which leads to higher level of performance. Therefore, learning through discussions can encourage holistic thinking and understanding when students start challenging their own ideas and beliefs, leading to a higher level of performance and a higher quality of understanding.