You are a tutor on an online course for working professionals. The course includes forums, and your responsibilities include facilitating the conversations on these forums. How do you get learners conversing online? How could learners have better quality conversations? These are questions I’ve grappled with. Last year I attended a workshop on conversations at the School of Life. Whilst it was primarily about face-to-face conversations, some of the ideas we discussed at the workshop can be applied to asynchronous conversations online. So, drawing from the workshop, here are a few tips for having better online conversations:
- Be interested: Show a genuine interest in what your learners do and what they write about. This will lead you to asking the right questions that prompt responses and discussion.
- Move beyond the standard questions: Instead ask more probing ones, or even more playful ones.
- Empathy: Try to understand the world from the perspective of your learner. And you can do this through your online conversations: sharing your own thoughts and asking imaginative questions. And this may also help you see the world differently, and this includes your work.
And learners, these tips apply equally to you. Be interested in your fellow learners and the work they do, ask imaginative questions, and try to understand their world view.
Some interesting resources:
- Joanne Jacobs blog post Ecology of Engagement: Joanne discusses engagement as ecology. The second part of her blog post on barriers to engagement is particularly applicable to this post on online conversations.
- Roman Krznaric’s Outrospection blog provides interesting ideas on empathy: what it is and how it can improve our lives.