My online discussion activity would involve my grade seven and eight English students first reading the short story “Rikki Tikki Tavi” from the 1894 anthology The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. Next, my students would watch the cartoon version of the story. Prior to reading and watching “Rikki Tikki Tavi”, half of the students would be told to pay attention to the many ways that the protagonist Rikki Tikki Tavi is portrayed as being honourable and good, while the antagonists, the cobras, are depicted as evil. The other half of the class is tasked with finding examples in the story that go against these portrayals, where the cobras are acting honourably and Rikki Tikki Tavi is evil.
Students will log in to the website kialo.com and be linked directly to this specific debate page. They will post their points and arguments by simply clicking on the green plus symbol for the pros team or the red plus symbol for the cons team. After they have added their points, they can go through and click on and rate the impact of each argument in the debate thread. They can also click the heart symbol to thank the author for their contribution. Another really nice feature is that for every statement made, a student is able to argue against that specific statement, similar to a rebuttal in a more formal oral class debate. By clicking on the statement, another thread is started.
I would facilitate this online discussion by setting clear instructions along with dates specific tasks are to be completed. For example, students could read and watch Rikki Tikki Tavi on Monday and take notes. On Tuesday, they would select and organize their ideas into arguments. Student postings would be due on Wednesday by 5:00 pm, to allow students time to read through all layers of the debate threads and reply by Thursday at 9:00 pm. At this time, the debate would be locked and nothing else would be able to be added. On Friday and Saturday, I would go through the debate, announce the winning side, and give everyone their grades. I would set participation in online discussions to count for 20% of the course grade. DeNoyelles et al. (2014) found that no additional benefits result when the grade is increased above 20% (DeNoyelles, Zydney, & Chen, 2014).
Students would be provided with clear assessment criteria in the form of a rubric and I would use a self-assessment strategy like a participation portfolio, where students submit their six best posts for grading, along with a description of what makes them their best posts. Exemplars would also be given of what constitutes an “A” post, a “B” post, etc.
To establish instructor presence, I would acknowledge insightful posts and ask for further clarification if a point is not clear.
Because this debate is asynchronous, it gives me time to see how well students are understanding the content. If students are not understanding, I can send out a message through kialo.com to redirect or clarify something. My classes are less than 30 students, so I don’t need to make smaller groups for this particular exercise.
To manage my workload as the instructor, I would set a clear schedule for myself. My home office hours would be from 7-9 pm every day. If there were no posts by Tuesday, I would send out a nudge mail message to everyone.
If you’d like to learn more about Kialo, I referenced a video below that explains how it works and what a debate flow chart looks like using the platform.
Clever Guru. (2020, September 1). Generate great debates using Kialo [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xSLrgbGpBc
DeNoyelles, A., Zydney, J. M., & Chen, B. (2014). Strategies for creating a community of inquiry through online asynchronous discussions. Journal of online learning and teaching, 10(1), 153-165.