Learning Objective

Learners will be introduced to the topic of leading synchronous and asynchronous discourse in an online environment while managing the diverse perspectives and conflicting ideas shared by participants. Evidence has shown that when learners are exposed to opinions and conclusions incongruent to their views of the world, it can create a disequilibrium or an intellectual conflict (Cranton, 2010; Johnson & Johnson, 2009). Intellectual conflict is essential to accelerating learning and transforming one’s perspectives. Johnson & Johnson (2009) posits that “intellectual conflict is the spark that energizes students to seek out new information and study harder and longer” (p.37). However, they have observed that limited conflict tends to be structured in instructional situations by educators because it is deemed negative, unpredictable, and may create tensions (Johnson & Johnson, 2009, p. 39). Our team chose to approach the topic of conflict and controversy as a potential source of authentic dialogue and learning opportunities. Through experiential learning, reflection and discourse, Learners will develop facilitator strategies for authentic conversations that will support positive and successful online learning.

Learning Resources

Our team discovered a number of great resources while researching this topic. Rather than giving our cohort more than one reading during our facilitation week, we decided to write a blog post that would summarize the readings and provide a brief overview of the research. This post will be provided at the beginning of the week and act as a springboard for further inquiry and discussion throughout the week. It will include a topic introduction, visuals, and an outline of expectations and learning activities for the week. In addition, it will include a recommendation to read a specific article (which will be addressed in the blog post). The references list in the post will provide Learners with the names of additional reading if they wish to dive deeper into the topic.

Learning Activities

There will be four main learning activities during our facilitation week. The week begins with a blog post from Group 2 to introduce learners to managing controversy and conflict by acquainting them to the concept of “constructive controversy” (Johnson & Johnson, 2009) and suggesting procedures and strategies to create and manage constructive controversy. Next, we will ask Learners a thought-provoking question to stimulate diverse perspectives and for learners to experience conflict in an online discussion. Learners will have the opportunity to reflect on this afterwards. Thereafter, we will facilitate a synchronous discussion to reflect on the thought-provoking question and to guide learners in an activity to co-create facilitator strategies for authentic conversations. Lastly, we will conclude by asking Learners to create a short (150 – 200 word) reflective blog.

Description of Synchronous Session

We will begin with an introduction to the topic asking Learners how they felt about the discussion in Mattermost (addressing the thought-provoking question). Thereafter, two facilitators will encourage Learners to brainstorm and co-create facilitator strategies for authentic conversations addressing why diverse perspectives and conflict are good or bad and what strategies can facilitators incorporate into their online environment. It will be a one-hour timed activity where we will introduce the activity, co-create strategies with Learners and provide feedback and opportunities for open discussion and sharing of ideas. The discussion will focus on what did you learn, what are your nuggets of knowledge and how can you integrate this into your own practice.

Date and Time for Synchronous Session

Thursday, October 1, 2020 at 5pm PST /8pm EST/8am HKT

Technologies We Will Use

Three main technologies will be used. Firstly, we will place the initial blog post with readings on Moodle Innovate. A link to this post will be located on a Mattermost Channel we will create for the facilitation of this topic. Information to be located in two places to ensure Learners view the information and that it is accessible to all. Secondly, the asynchronous discussion (thought-provoking question) will be via Mattermost. This is an informal platform that Learners are familiar with and it provides opportunities for sharing thoughts and brainstorming ideas. In addition, it supports a teaching presence. Thirdly, the synchronous session will be facilitated using Black Board Collaborate as it supports cognitive ease of use (Learners know the technology) and promotes open discussion. This session will be recorded for Learners who are unable to attend. Next, the student blog posts will be via Mattermost as it supports open discourse and a teaching presence. Lastly, a summary of the teaching strategies for diverse perspectives and conflict will be located on Moodle Innovate and Mattermost.

Timeline of the Week

Learning Activity Date
Asynchronous: Post introduction blog (springboard) on constructive conflict on Moodle Innovate and Mattermost September 27
Asynchronous: Post explanation of activity and thought-provoking question on Mattermost September 28
Asynchronous: Monitor discussions and respond September 28- 30
Synchronous: Facilitation of group discussion and learning activity on Black Board Collaborate October. 1

8pm EST/5pm PST/ 8am HKT

Asynchronous: Share recorded session with students on Moodle Innovate October 1
Asynchronous: Student Blog (optional) in Mattermost October 2 – 3
Asynchronous: Send the cohort final posting summarizing and highlighting, blog posts, discussions and learnings from asynchronous and synchronous sessions on Moodle Innovate and Mattermost October 3

Establish Community of Inquiry and Indicators

Task Community of Inquiry Framework Indicators
Asynchronous: Post introduction blog (Springboard), on constructive conflict on Moodle Innovate and Mattermost Social Presence – introducing Group 2 persona and expectations

Teaching Presence – direct instruction and providing an overview

Cognitive Presence – resources share big ideas and multiple representation of material

Learners pre-read info for Mattermost discussion

Learners ask questions of facilitators/SME and receive prompt answers

Learners can locate the information with limited questions

Asynchronous: Post thought-provoking question Social Presence – collaborative activities among the cohort

Teaching Presence – ask questions that lead to cognitive dissonance

Cognitive Presence – divergent thinking of Learners to promote diverse perspectives

Learners respond to the question;

Learners sharing open and honest perspectives on the topic that can lead to critical discourse.

Learners through divergent thinking deconstruct and reconstruct knowledge

Asynchronous: Monitor discussions and respond Social Presence – Summarizing and providing feedback to Learners; valuing contributions

Teaching Presence – monitor discussion; ensure productive dialogue

Cognitive Presence – divergent thinking from cohort

Learners provide feedback to each other

Learners acknowledge divergent thinking

Synchronous: Facilitation of group discussion and learning activity Social Presence – small group work and solving activities

Teaching Presence – presenting content in conversational style; connecting ideas; co-creation of information

Cognitive Presence – co-creation of facilitator strategies; group work

Learners participate in the co-creation of strategies; they feel comfortable enough to agree or disagree with discussion;


Learners share their meaning and perspectives with peers to come up with a shared understanding of the topic

Asynchronous: Sharing recorded synchronous session with learners Social Presence – supporting learning by sharing recording


Teaching Presence – encouraging openness and sharing of ideas with learners who were unable to attend or those who want to reflect on material again


Cognitive Presence – sharing big ideas with learners who were unable to attend or those who want to reflect on material again

Learners may ask additional questions once they have had time to review the content
Asynchronous: Student Blog Social Presence –sharing views

Teaching Presence -providing supportive feedback

Cognitive Presence – online personal reflection of learning

Learners participate in the blog


Provide a space for Learners to reflect on their experience with managing conflict in an online discussion and the lessons they learned from this experience

Asynchronous: Send the cohort final posting summarizing and highlighting discussions and learnings from asynchronous and synchronous sessions Social Presence – providing a review of information; community building

Teaching Presence – sharing meaning and experiences; identify areas of agreement

Cognitive Presence -multiple representations of information; sharing divergent thinking

Learners comment on receiving a summary of information; additional comments from Learners


Cranton, P. (2010). Transformative learning in an online environment. International Journal of Adult Vocational Education and Technology (IJAVET), 1(2), 1-9. doi:10.4018/javet.2010040101

Johnson, D. & Johnson, R. (2009). Energizing learning: The instructional power of conflict. Educational Researcher, 38(1), 37–51. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X08330540