Welcome to PME 801. I will use this site to hold some of my reflections and directions to you. I hope that you will take the time read my comments here. I encourage you to also read through some of the other posts, even if they are from other courses I have taught. You can download a copy of the syllabus from the bottom of this post.
In PME 851, you will be required to contribute to several discussion board topics. These are listed in your syllabus. The discussion board entries are required but not graded directly. However, I do look carefully at what contributions you made to the boards and take this activity into account when deciding upon a grade.
Please have a look at this post to understand how I review the discussion boards in D2L: http://www.paulleslie.net/index.php/item/742-discussion-boards-in-d2l
Now, I would like to discuss my expectations for these boards a bit more thoroughly. I ask you to read about the community of inquiry model, (https://coi.athabascau.ca/). You can peruse the site and if you have not heard of this model I will ask you to read a few of the articles listed therein.
In brief, the model highlights how we first must make the community (your classmates) feel safe through social presence – making sure everyone understands your perspective, context and the purpose of your post. This is not always as obvious as you may think. It also requires that you give (literally) permission to others to challenge you, and to feel confident to ask questions of your classmates about their posts. As with any classroom, f2f or virtual, we all must let each of us (the participants) place themselves in the community and in a context where they feel they can contribute.
The next step is the notion of teaching presence. This is the guiding force of the community. These are the questions that we ask each other and more importantly, the answers that we give. I will ask you challenging questions, quite simply to challenge you. Usually, I expect an answer. You are expected to ask questions of your peers. And when asked, you are expected to answer. In other words, to make the most of this discussion board and community, I charge you with asking pointed and direct questions of each other in the posts. Students must ask other students questions. There is only one of me and many of you. This is to push each other forward in the quest for knowledge.
Only once we have social presence and teaching presence will we get cognitive presence, the creation of new knowledge - not before.
So, let me reiterate that not only is it appropriate for you to ask each other questions, but it is imperative that you do. Teaching presence not only comes from the teacher (me), but comes in the form of directing questions and inquiry which is what gives the community direction and guidance for sharing our cognitive presence. Social presence is that which makes us comfortable doing so.
That is why we are here.