Chapter 7

One of the more important literacies involves students’ ability to collaboratively discuss topics, issues, and texts in small or large groups.   Engaging in discussions allows students to share their ideas, questions, concerns, engagements, and perceptions related to learning across the curriculum.  For example, in a math class, students can collaboratively work through a math problem by each sharing their own particular expertise.

In this chapter we explore a range of online sites that promote the use of collaborative interaction and discussion to support learning across the curriculum.  For example, we examine the possibilities afforded by Course Management Systems Discussion Platforms (Internet CMSs)like Moodle, Desire2Learn, Blackboard, Pearson's PowerTeacher just to mention a few and a range of social networking sites including not only the most popular sites like Facebook, Google+ and Ning, but dynamic lesser known sites like Grou.ps, Mixxt, & Sceeo among many more.  

This focus highlights the advantages of capitalizing on the shared understanding through collaboration tool that these sites provide.  And we discuss how the discussion tools provided in these sites support the integration of literacy modalities.  For example, in a written modality when students share ideas, they think through what they want to say, write up a posting or reaction, and then read what their peers have written.  When they post a video for commentary, they craft a visual representation and invite discussion from peers in the form of written reponses, and so on.  Discussion online affords a much richer, multimodal form of discussion than traditional class discussions when teachers use discussion to support learning through online tools.