As any MBA teacher will tell you, classroom participation is great for learning but incredibly hard to assess. Keeping track of activity let alone the quality of contributions in a transparent manner is very difficult. For my new Network and Digital Market Strategy course at Rotman (both MBA and undergrad), I decided to ‘go virtual’ with, at least, the assessment of participation. Instead, students will be graded for online participation at rotmandigital.wordpress.com. The beauty of this is that I have a digital record of participation — removing one issue with assessment.

It has been going for about three weeks now and you can see there is plenty of activity. There is also provision for students to ‘like’ the comments of others. You’ll also notice that all of this is public; my theory being that managers often have to engage online and with the public in their jobs to explain their positions and point of view. Why not start at business school developing those skills? I think you’ll also find some of the discussion, links and data the students bring to issues to be quite interesting.

But this is all experimental and I am more than happy for suggestions in the comments as to how I might improve this type of assessment learning activity.

By the way, if you are interested in following what the course is about, there are plenty of links to readings and also to the class slides.

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4 Responses to Online class participation

  1. Andrew Boysen (@boysenandrew) says:

    This might be a horrible idea, but I noticed the blog is hosted on WordPress.com – if accounts were created specifically for this initiative, comparing the Klout scores of those users at the end could provide an objective measure of the influence they had in the class. I haven’t tried anything like that (I’m only applying to PhD programs now, so have not taught), and people could game it by linking other accounts, perhaps. It might be worth looking into though. There might be some social network analysis software capable of sorting the data as well.

  2. YSK says:

    I had a discussion forum for several years on our university’s internal eLearning platform. I stopped using it this year because it was taking up too much of my time as well as the students’. This is the kind of thing that, if it works well, it can be a nightmare!

  3. Ragu says:

    In the real world sadly it’s all about being vocal as opposed to virtual. The noisier person wins most of the time. Especially when mbas are involved. Aren’t you hindering an essential skill with this technique?

  4. Joshua Gans says:

    @Ragu I worried alot about that. So I am trying to manage that. But the beauty of this is that one person’s long-winded remarks does not stand in the way of another making comments. It is all simultaneous.

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