Beyond the Discussion Board
Far too often, the only interaction between students in an online course is through the discussion board, where the typical assignment asks students to respond to a prompt and then reply to several of their classmate’s posts. Discussion boards are also the mainstay of online group work and usually they are a poor fit to student needs. Sometimes, these discussions can result in a meaningful exchange of ideas amongst its participants. However, as anyone who has ever taken an online course can attest, rarely do any of these discussions result in the manifestation of deep analysis or critical thinking. The vast majority of the time, these exchanges remain at the surface level and end up feeling more like busywork, rather than an essential tool for learning.
Now, more than ever, it is essential to break free from the dependence on the discussion board. CTEL has been working with several faculty members who want to include group work and discussion in their online courses, and we have been able to introduce effective options that don’t sacrifice the convenience of an online interaction. On September 19th we are offering a session on the ‘Online Discussion’ and it will explore ways that instructors can enhance interaction within their online courses. We will explore emerging technologies and new interactive tools that are changing the “discussion board” paradigm, such as Adobe Connect, GoReact, VoiceThread, TeamMaker , Google + Communities, etc.
We have created a sample course in Blackboard that shows how the tools discussed in the workshop can be integrated. To access this sample course, log into Blackboard. Click on the 'Courses' tab, located on the upper-left side of the screen. Under 'Course Search', search for 'Beyond the Discussion Board'. Click on the downward facing arrow under the course ID and click on 'enroll'. See screenshots below for details: