Recently, I read about a study titled Learning or Lurking? Tracking the ‘Invisible’ Online Student by Michael Beaudoin that found that while students who interact a lot in online classes perform well in the class, those students who interacted the least performed higher than the moderate interaction group. This could leads to a conclusion that some students may actually perform well without participating. Wait… what?? As I create discussion or video requirements for my online or blended classes, I’ve been doing it under the premise that I want to hear everyone’s voice and therefore set a minimum requirement. I’ve been pleased to see the number and quality of posts in my online classes but the findings from this study make me wonder … by enforcing participation requirements, am I really creating a learning environment that is welcoming for ALL learners? What if every learner does not need to be highly interactive to learn (which is highly likely”? Certainly I intend on setting the “floor” somewhere (regarding participation requirements) and I am not going to adjust my teaching practice based on one study but it did made me think more carefully about what to require.
What do you think? How do you go about setting your participation requirements for online courses?