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Learning Management Systems I: “D2L and Classroom Interactions”

by Jessica Benjamin

This panel shared their experiences with incorporating the Desire2Learn course management system in their first-year composition courses: Natalie King-Casper discussed the news board function; Jade Faul discussed the content function; Nickie Kranz discussed the discussion board function; Tyler Corbett related the discussion board feature to blogs and journals; and Ande Davis discussed the use of D2L for teachers new to technology.

King-Casper demonstrated the news board and described it as a transition into the site being the first thing students see. The news board allows students to view the most current and up-to-date information. Further, King-Casper related the findings of a student polled that found 71% of her students check the news board three or more times a week. However, she did note that this required more effort from instructors since they are the ones to maintain the news board and need to post the most current information.

Faul described the content page to be the core of the site which organizes information in modules and contains assignment materials, learning tools and lecture notes. Students can access these materials whenever they want and don’t have to worry about loosing course documents. Faul also noted that content can be added, deleted or hidden from students view. Faul suggested the content tool can impersonalize the classroom.

Kranz then highlighted the discussion board feature and how she used it to get student feedback, get students interacting without a fear of public speaking and responding to each others questions, allowing them to teach each other. Kranz concluded by emphasizing the rhetorical value of discussion boards.

Corbett then showed how he used discussion boards as a journaling/blogging tool. Corbett provided several different prompts to create a more public forum and make students more responsible and responsive rather than they tend to be when authoring individual journals which only the instructor read. After polling his students, Corbett found that almost all of them preferred the public discussion boards over their personal journals, as they set the tone for the class as well as helped them learn to write.

In contrast, Davis had a very different take on D2L. He found it difficult to use not simply because of the technology but because he would much rather communicate verbally. This said, he did find ways to incorporate discussion boards; however, he liked to think of his technique as “ mixed method” since he would speak to the class as they wrote. He commented that an outsider looking at what they wrote might not be able to make sense of it because he would be interjecting through out with additional questions and comments which prompted the students to write about things that may otherwise seem off topic.

The panel gave an overview of the functions of the D2L system, discussed how much or how little they use the functions, and noted some basic advantages of having a paperless classroom and allowing a variety of teaching techniques for different kinds of learners.

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