Blending Async and Sync to Support Vulnerable Conversations

Kimberly Acquaviva | Betty Norman Norris Endowed Professor, School of Nursing

Online discussion forums can often get a bit unwieldy and overwhelming for students, so School of Nursing's Kimberly Acquaviva tried something different for her J-term course Sex in the Time of COVID-19. She decided to create a standalone discussion for each day of the two-week, asynchronous course. The discussion would last for just one day and focus on the same topic, giving the feeling of a synchronous course since the discussion was happening within a set timeframe. Acquaviva found that this allowed students to engage deeply in the daily discussions, more so than they would have if the class were in person. The online forum enabled students to be thoughtful about what they were going to post and then their responses to other students. Also, the class discussed sensitive topics and students may have felt more comfortable sharing in the online setting. At the end of the day, Acquaviva found that what really matters is the faculty and student engagement in the course--not where you're physically sitting.


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