discussion boards

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……..

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3 responses to “discussion boards

  1. I think the potential of the online discussion board is very apparent, but for me and other students like me, it is much easier to become invested in actual face-to-face conversation. The use of the internet allows for a lot of cool things in classrooms, but to base the classroom in the internet is a difficult thought to me. I think it is possible. The problem for me lies in the interactivity. Compare BBLearn to Facebook, and I think you’ll see what I mean. BBLearn is hard to navigate, harder to personalize, and difficult to get invested in. I think that for a classroom conversation to be recreateable online, the space needs to be more interactive, and more user friendly than we have now.
    Or that’s my opinion, anyway.

    • I think your idea of personalization is really important. I took a f2f course with a strong online component that used Ning for the online portion – which allowed for individual profile pages, photos, and then all the school related stuff. I felt more invested in this space because there were ways to represent myself as a person, and as a student, then we saw everyone f2f once a week. I wonder if more customizable options in BBLearn would increase the level of investment by students…..

      • That sounds awesome! I bet it would. I think just looking like a social network site would help students think about their interactions as a virtual conversation, rather than a grades assignment, which it seems would immediately boost participation, and make the space more familiar, as well as more of a worth while investment.

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