Exercise: Online Discussion on Student Produced Work

Summary of example activity

Using a concept key to course material (eg Globalization, Development, Nationalism, Space, Equality, Justice, Health) both sets of students write a short definition of the concept and tell a short story about their connection to the concept (through direct experience or observation). They then read all the responses (or a subset if the classes are large) and in their individual classes and/or during online video chat or discussion forum, they comment on different definitions as well as the way each individual has experienced/understood the concept.

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the key concept.
  • Explore how that concept is differently understood and experienced.
  • Develop online inter-cultural communication
  • Acquire a greater understanding of life in another location

Materials and Data Needed

Both classes will need to have access to shared literature and/or a lecture on the concept. In preparation for the activity, some reading about the context of each of the geographic context of classes/universities, while not absolutely essential, would help prepare students for better communication and to understand each others’ perspectives.

Technology Needed

This activity can be adapted to most online tools depending on the access and experience of each class. Any platform with a discussion board such as a learning management system like Moodle, Blackboard, Collaborize Classroom, a blog (such as WordPress) or even Facebook can be used for students to write their comments. If the material will be discussed online video conferencing software such as Skype, Adobe Connect or Google Video Chat can be used.

Estimated Time

The students should spend approximately 1.5 hours preparing, writing and posting the assignment. Approximately 1.5 hours should be allotted to read and discuss the posts online and in class.


  1. Choose a concept that is central to the course material for both classes.
  2. Locate the necessary reading and/or create a lecture on the concept to prepare the students for the activity (this may include contextual reading about the classroom with which you are collaborating)
  3. Choose the online platform to be used by students to interact and introduce the students to this tool.
  4. Assign the students to complete the readings and lecture materials, write a short definition of the concept that they are studying and write a 1-2 paragraph explanation of their connection (through experience or direct observation) to the concept.
  5. Students share and discuss their work.
    1. In another class session, each class meets separately and the students read and discuss comments from the other class.
    2. Outside of class, have the students read and comment on at least 4 posts from the collaborating class.
    3. The students read the comments outside of class and the two classes meet synchronously using video conferencing software to discuss the posts from both classes.