Online asynchronous distance education: number of posts per week?

This came up in class…

One question that I struggle with, and have had different experiences with at Walden U., is how often should students be required to participate in online discussions? I have had classes that required posting on four separate days, and others that required only one.

I’d definitely like to put my 2 cents worth in here…

I too had a class in which I was required to post on four separate days during the week. This was an awful experience. I think this requirement was wasteful and ignorant, revealing our instructor’s utter misunderstanding of the power of online education. Did I word that strongly? I meant it strongly. This removed most of the advantages of taking an online asynchronous distance education course. I felt I might as well have been going to class every night and I felt that my classmates and I were posting a lot of low quality writing. The ironic thing is that even in classes with more reasonable requirements I tend to visit the class site and read posts at least once a day. However, if I need to miss a day, it is not a source of stress, and as you can tell, I post far less often – only when I have something to say if I can help it.

Other classes, such as this one, require a high number of posts… such as 3 to 5 topics per week, plus 3 responses to our colleagues. This has worked well in this class because most of the prompts require an interesting composition in response, and because we have a large number of students with something to say. Here the sheer number of posts can be overwhelming, but the chances of identifying with a post and wanting to respond to it are much higher. However, this might also backfire in a smaller class where there there is less to chose from when responding. I have sometimes found our Thursday requirement artificial, but I understand the need to post in time for others to respond. (Incidentally, these late posts come after I was out of town and informed Dr. Shepard.)

Of course I’ve had other classes that required fewer postings. A common format seems to be a single weekly discussion question to which everyone must post, but then you must also respond to three of your classmates. This I have found focused and productive. It was worth spending time composing each post, and it was worth reading most of them as well.

This quarter, I am also enrolled in a class that is completely at the other end of the spectrum. The instructor is requiring 1 post to the weekly discussion topic and 1 response to a classmate… anytime before midnight of Day 7. The class is also very small (about 8 people) and it is rare for anyone to post extra or to offer lengthy posts… the volume of discussion is very low, and it is not very rich.

I think a similar discussion might be had about the number of assignments… and about group assignments as a subset, but I’ll limit the time I’m putting into this reply. ;)