Not Your Grandmother’s Discussion Forum: Jigsaw Grouping in Online Discussion
Online instruction is quickly gaining ground in higher education. One of the factors used to assess the overall quality of online instruction is the degree of student interaction that is fostered within it. To promote such interaction, instructors generally emphasize use of Asynchronous Discussion Forums (ASF). The purpose of this virtual poster session is to identify those factors which characterize online discussion forum activity: electronic environment (e.g., LMS), clarity of expectations, size of groups, nature of the learning task, role of the instructor, role of the student, method of evaluation and, most especially, the structure of the activity. The case will be made that forum structure, especially as pertains to grouping, is a neglected topic in the online education literature. Two specific structures will be described in this session: the typical “read and post” format and jigsaws. Advantages and disadvantages of each will be addressed.