JOLT: Balancing Quality and Workload in Asynchronous Online Discussions

Of interest to teachers struggling to keep up with online discussions with their students!

Goldman, Zvi (2011) ‘Balancing Quality and Workload in Asynchronous Online Discussions: A Win-Win Approach for Students and Instructors’. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. 7:2 pp.313-323

ABSTRACT: The challenge addressed in this article is how to achieve a win-win balance between quality and workload for students and instructors participating in asynchronous online discussions. A Discussion Guideline document including minimum requirements and best practices was developed to address this need. The approach covers three phases: design and development, setting up expectations, and launch and management. The goals of the approach, based on a commitment shared by all full time and adjunct faculty, are high quality of education as well as retention of both students and qualified instructors.

Further explanation of the research challenge from the introduction: “When discussions are regarded as critical components of learning, and administered as such, they impose a significant workload on both students and instructors. In applicable programs targeting practitioner adults, discussion sessions, during which much of the evidence-based learning and experience sharing occur, can easily consume half the course workload (Goldman, 2010). The reality is that neither students nor instructors can afford to dedicate an unlimited amount of time to fulfill course requirements or teach a course. Therefore, as a matter of practicality, discussion sessions should be carefully implemented to balance pedagogic quality and workload for students and instructors alike.”

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