Teaching Tips: Discussion Board

Blackboard’s Discussion Board is a place where you can set up forums (or topic areas) and allow students to discuss topics either as a whole class or in smaller groups. Discussions happen asynchronously (meaning, on their own time and not as a “live” chat).

Discussion Board Tips and Strategies

Merely setting up a discussion forum doesn’t mean students will use it. The way you compose your questions or prompts has a major effect on the quality of the discussion.

Example Discussion Goals:

  • Expose student misconceptions and questions
  • Situate abstract tasks into authentic context
  • Identify key-concepts in a reading or practice close reading
  • Extend or apply issues developed in the course
  • Prepare for an in-class discussion; e.g., students can reflect on the readings, answer simple questions, solve simple problems, review concepts, or compare experiences

From Brown University Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning

Consider the purpose:
Write a short statement about the reason for discussion. This can guide you when composing the question or prompt and can be shared with students as the rationale for the assignment.

Talk About Netiquette:
Net+etiquette means behavior in online course discussion. Some instructors find it most effective to ask students to either discuss in class or submit their own ideas for what the behavior guidelines should be, and compile them on a page in Blackboard.

Voluntary vs. Required:
We’ve seen better discussions among students when participation is part of their graded course work. If you create a forum but don’t make it a requirement to participate, you may not have much activity.

Due Dates:
Create a due date for initial posts and another later date for responses. Without clear dates and times that posts are due, students will often post at the last minute leaving no time for others to respond. You can encourage students to post early to improve their grades.

Give clear guidance on what you expect such as the minimum and maximum length of post, identifying points from the text to support an argument, etc. Use examples of exemplary posts, if possible.

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