Rationale and Benefits
can provide more opportunity for student participation, encourage lengthier and more thorough discussions, and give students who may choose not to participate in large group discussions an alternative mode of participation. The nature of these online environments allows multiple students to "speak" at the same time. Thus, students don't necessarily have to "wait their turn." Students can be asked to use the Forum for additional discussions that may otherwise take up too much of actual class-time. Perhaps students raise issues during the course of the semester that are certainly relevant and valuable, but would likely end up being sacrificed in favor of an activity that can't be replaced. The Web Forum and online chatrooms allow an additional outlet for any topic to be discussed. Some students may choose not to participate in large-class discussions, or feel self-conscious about sharing their ideas in front of the entire class. The online locations effectively negotiate both of these problems. It allows students more time to think through their responses and choose exactly what they want to say. This, ideally, helps ease self-consciousness. Finally, the Forum and chat can also help reduce the power of the teacher by removing from the discussion a clear leader who might otherwise silence or ignore certain voices.