Sunday, October 10, 2021

Discussion Threads and Classroom Discussions

When it comes to online classes and discussion threads, we often say that a good discussion thread mimics the kind of conversations we would have had in a face to face classroom.  But having experienced online classes as a seminary student, I've begun to think that a good discussion thread is actually better than most face to face class discussions.

I have been part of in person class discussions, both as a teacher and as a student, that were truly glorious:  full of points none of us would have developed on our own, full of eye opening moments, full of wonder.  But I've been part of many more that were not like that.

As a seminary student, I've been enjoying creating my own discussion posts, and those short pieces of writing have helped me engage with various texts far more deeply than if all I had to do was show up to an in person class.  I've enjoyed reading the thoughts of my classmates.  Even more, I've enjoyed virtual class lectures that weren't interrupted by shallow thoughts, as so many were in my graduate studies back when I was earning an MA and a PhD in English.

It's time to start thinking about the classes that I will take next term, and given the huge uncertainties, I'm planning to take the second half of the classes that I'm currently taking, and to take them in their online/virtual formats.  I am surprised to find that I like this delivery system so much.  I also know that much of the success of the classes is because of the professors, so I'm happy to stick with these professors for another term.

Eventually I hope to do at least a year on campus, in a more traditional format.  But this year, Wesley Theological Seminary is offering very few classes in person, in that traditional format.  It will be interesting to see how these years of pandemic instruction have changed education forever.

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