Learning Through Virtual Discussion: The Blueprint for Creating Dynamic Synchronous Group Discussions Online

ID: 50502 Type: Workshop
  1. Kellie Alston, North Carolina Central University/Human Sciences Department/Early Childhood Education, United States

Sunday, March 5 1:30 PM-5:00 PM

Distance education is the fastest growing sector of higher education; consequently, brick and mortar institutions with teacher education programs have begun to offer courses and even full degrees online. The Learning Through Virtual Discussion model allows teacher educators to provide a stimulating, e-learning experience that not only guides students into mastery of student learning outcomes through cooperative learning and collaborative work, but also enhances their social and affective development as they learn to effectively communicate with others, control the quality of their learning experiences, and develop their leadership skills. This unique discussion process can be used as the primary method of delivering high-quality virtual instruction that transforms students and develops 21st century skills that are critical for success in today’s world.


1. Examine the role of Learning Through Virtual Discussion as a cooperative learning strategy that develops the higher-order thinking and analytical questioning skills of prospective teachers. 2. Execute the eight steps of Learning Through Virtual Discussion in small groups. 3. Utilize Blackboard Collaborate to conduct Learning Through Virtual Discussion.

Topical Outline

I. Introduction II. Value of Cooperative Learning in Teacher Education III. Increasing Use of Online Education IV. Advantages of Engaged Pedagogy Over Traditional Lecture V. The LTVD Process Plan (8 Steps) A. Face-to-Face Implementation B. Blackboard Collaborate Demonstrations VI. Pitfalls: What Can Go Wrong VII. Pratfalls: Mistakes I Have Made and Solutions VIII. Summary/Wrap-Up


Participants should have a basic familiarity with a learning management system (LMS) such as Blackboard Collaborate or Moodle and a basic understanding of cooperative learning. Participants should have a desire for an interactive, engaging way to connect with distance education students.

Experience Level



Current Position: Distance Education Lecturer I teach and develop online courses to prospective teachers seeking a first degree or current teachers aspiring to earn a second-degree or licensure in early childhood education. Advising undergraduates and serving as a university supervisor/mentor for student teachers is also a part of the job. Courses include: Reading and Research in Early Childhood Education; Families, Professionals and the Community; Assessment and Evaluation in ECE; Language and Literacy in ECE; Preschool and Kindergarten Program Development; Infant and Toddler Program Development; Guiding Behavior In Young Children; Typical and Atypical Development. In this position, I use the Blackboard platform, including Blackboard Collaborate, to make teaching interactive and engaging. In most classes, students participate in cooperative learning groups via the virtual classroom setting. Audio and video are also used to guide and instruct. I have held the position as distance education lecturer and course developer for 12 years. Education: M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction; B.S. in Elementary Education. Other Positions Held: preschool teacher, first grade teacher, second grade teacher, reading specialist, curriculum facilitator


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