By February 24, 2011 1 Comments Read More →

Online Class Book Discussion & One Book, One Community Programs

I am in the midst of my section of an online class in readers’ advisory in public libraries. My section focuses on book-talking and book groups. One of my assignments is to have students participate in an online discussion of Chris Cleave’s Little Bee, which is also the 2011 Seattle Reads selection.

In addition to engaging in an online discussion on the book, they will be submitting papers pitching their own selections for a community reads program.

In guiding and observing this discussion, which has been conducted asynchronously via discussion threads, I have been reflecting more on what it means to facilitate in an online environment, what it means to have students engage with one another, and how you can keep discussion on track and flowing once someone has said what they had to say and moved on.

I have also been thinking more about the criteria, stated and unstated, in how communities select a community read. What are the pros and cons, for instance, or only selecting works by living authors who can meet with the community?

One student commented that the discussion threads were interesting, but that they wondered if we would be as comfortable airing our issues with the book if the discussion were in person. I responded with the reflection that it has been interesting to note how written discussion allows for more thoughtful articulation of the point or opinion you want to share; you are perhaps able to share more and hear more from others in this format.

Has anyone tried online discussions of this kind? Has anyone participated in an online discussion for a community read? Your reflections and stories would be most welcome.

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About the Author:

Misha Stone is a readers' advisory librarian with The Seattle Public Library. Follow her on Twitter at @ahsimlibrarian.

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