Creating an online space where students feel comfortable debating ideas requires that students respect certain rules. Developing these rules can be seen as a strategy for developing critical thinking and digital citizenship skills in and of itself.
EXAMPLE OF EXERCISE TO DEVELOP NORMS OF COMMUNICATION:
Ask students to reflect on, write about or discuss the following questions:
- How do you think online dialogue might differ from classroom discussion? In your opinion, what might be some advantages or disadvantages?
- What do you need from yourself and the group to participate effectively in dialogue? In other words, what would help you feel more comfortable sharing your thoughts and experiences as well as reading those of other students that you might find challenging or unsettling? 1
In small groups, have students come up with three “Norms of Communication” that would help address any of these concerns.
- never comment on language, spelling, grammar*
- always address the argument, not the individual
- start with something positive before providing a critique
* This is essential when dealing with second-language learners