Discussion in graduate online bioethics programs

International Journal of Ethics Education 2 (1):17-36 (2016)
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In this paper, we explore best practices for asynchronous discussions in graduate online bioethics education. We explain that online approaches have advantages and challenges in contrast to in-person discussions. Online challenges are lack of visual or auditory cues and technical access. Advantages include extended opportunities for specific focus, thoughtful reflection, and critical review. We found no significant review of related best practices in bioethics. Our more general literature review of graduate education and online approaches, plus experience in our own bioethics graduate program, suggest provisional best practices that we detail. We reason that online graduate discussion provisionally should aim for a “community of inquiry” framework that incorporates cognitive, social, and teaching “presences,” as well as a learning presence. However, we also note unresolved concerns about whether the framework sufficiently addresses learning, is complete, and captures communicative functions. Drawing further on the literature, we also suggest best practices for instructor feedback to students about their discussion performance, including that remarks should be timely and specific. Summaries from two courses in our graduate bioethics program illustrate how we implement discussion strategies. Finally, we review assessment strategies and suggest that embedded formative assessments in discussion support and demonstrate deeper learning. Limitations in generalizability include that our review targets asynchronous and text-based online discussion, our program assessments do not necessarily detail best practices, student expectations and approaches could be rather particular to our program, and specific bioethics content in principle could alter best practices.



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Quality and best practises.Henk ten Have - 2017 - International Journal of Ethics Education 2 (1):1-2.

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