I met with some e-learning tech/functional/design gurus this morning to discuss a course I’m helping redesign. One of the biggest pushes to aid professors in creating presence in the course is to push more guided discussion boards into the course. I know in a lot of ways discussion boards can feel like busy work to students. They check comprehension on reading, they provide additional writing space, they help students monitor deadlines by keeping them spaced out…….but for a professor, they provide the only possible space within the online shell to recreate an online version of class time. One of these amazing gurus sent me a document on teaching through discussion boards. I LOVE the idea. It allows for writing about writing, writing for comprehension, writing for peer engagement, writing for practice, writing for peer review/feedback…so many opportunities. Now, I just need to make them feel less like busy work because writing about your research plan, then researching, then writing about your findings sounds tedious and similar to big-brother-check-up-on-you-busywork. So how do we teach through these discussions, and encourage peer engagement in a way that doesn’t feel like busywork……..