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Top Ten Educational Advantages of NowComment online discussion

Top Ten Educational Advantages of Online Discussion

Fall 2011

NowComment® Online Discussion

Face-to-Face Discussion

General Differences

A lot of information is shared (text and pictures are high bandwidth visual information).

Relatively little information shared (speech is low bandwidth).

Multiple simultaneous conversations; students can comment at any time on whatever they find interesting (including tangential observations) without interrupting other conversations

There's only one conversation, which may not give some students a good opening to turn the conversation to their topic. Tangents can derail the current conversation.

No need to split attention; full discussion transcript remains accessible for student review and teacher evaluation.

Students and teachers must juggle listening and note-taking; retention is constrained by imperfect memory and note-taking ability.

One upload gives the class ongoing access to both the document and discussion transcript.

Time and expense of distributing paper copies (which students often lose or forget to bring).

Overcome Time Constraints

Opportunity to make as many comments as each person thinks is important, because making comments doesn't take time away from others.

Only time for a few comments; some people get no turn to speak, many don't get to express all the thoughts they feel are important.

Opportunity for more developed, detailed, and nuanced comments; long comments don't take time away from others.

There's usually no time to fully communicate complex ideas, explore tangential themes, etc.

New Technology, New Options

Option to hide viewing of comments until a certain date/time lets students comment with minimal peer pressure/influence.

Inescapable influence or pressure of previously voiced comments in class discussions.

Top Ten Educational Advantages of Online Discussion

Fall 2011

NowComment Online Discussion

Face-to-Face Discussion

Comfortable Online Social Context

Writing is done in private (often from home or other safe environment). Students get to choose which comments to respond to and which students to engage with. Online discussion is a fresh format that leverages students' comfort, facility, and enjoyment of online and social media.

Very formal, high social pressure (public speaking, all eyes on the speaker). Whose comments a student gets to respond to are determined by whom the Teacher calls on or whose hand is raised first. A familiar but not exciting format.

Students can take time to think through and fully express their thoughts; no one is ever interrupted.

A few highly verbal extroverts often dominate the conversation (and sometimes interrupt others); students have to speak up quickly or risk losing their turn, even if their ideas aren't fully formed. Shy students habitually don't participate.

Students can intellectually engage with each other to explore in depth (e.g. multiple back-and-forths) similar or divergent perspectives, related ideas, interesting implications.

Few chances to talk through varying perspectives, rarely able to ask follow-up questions or pose challenges, etc.

Note: Online discussion nicely complements face-to-face discussion, lectures, and other traditional methods:

  • leverage online comments to energize face-to-face discussion

  • use online discussion to reinforce concepts after a presentation

  • request online comments to see what people understand before giving a presentation

  • review discussion transcripts to identify research projects, writing projects, group assignments, etc.

Please visit our educational applications page for helpful links and sample uses:

For more information about NowComment please contact: [email protected]

DMU Timestamp: November 03, 2011 20:54

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Quickstart: Commenting and Sharing

How to Comment
  • Click icons on the left to see existing comments.
  • Desktop/Laptop: double-click any text, highlight a section of an image, or add a comment while a video is playing to start a new conversation.
    Tablet/Phone: single click then click on the "Start One" link (look right or below).
  • Click "Reply" on a comment to join the conversation.
How to Share Documents
  1. "Upload" a new document.
  2. "Invite" others to it.

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