Discussion Boards Valuable And Overused Discuss  -Blackhatword

Updated on September 15, 2022 in General
0 on September 15, 2022

Discussion Boards Valuable And Overused Discuss  -Blackhatword

Both instructors and students are sick of the discussion board format. Innovative techniques suggest that more engaging online learning experiences are possible.

For decades, discussion boards have been a feature of online classes. However, Carolyn Speer, manager of instructional design and access at Wichita State University, believes that many teachers use them wrongly by default.

Instructors sometimes begin a discussion board assignment by requesting that each student react to an assigned reading. To combat plagiarism, some learning management systems are configured, either by the platform or by institutional or instructor regulations, to show the complete contents of a discussion thread only after a student has posted.

The discussion board style has grown on both teachers and students. More engaging online learning experiences may be achieved via innovative strategies.

Discussion boards have been a component of online education for decades. Carolyn Speer, Wichita State University’s manager of instructional design and access, argues that many teachers utilize them incorrectly by default.

Instructors may begin a discussion board assignment by asking each student to respond to an assigned reading. To fight plagiarism, some learning management systems are set up, either by the platform or by institutional or instructor policies, to display the whole contents of a discussion thread only after a student has posted.

“Most of the time, it appears to me that what they want is a serious writing assignment done by each individual student on a topic with the option for students to remark on other students’ work,” Speer said. “At least in our LMS, doing that in a blog is preferable.”

Though Speer challenges the value of discussion boards, she believes they should not be abandoned. Face-to-face classes are distinguished by lively conversations. Skeptics of online learning contend that it is difficult to recreate its worth online – but Speer is not one of them. “If two individuals can fall in love online, they can also learn about American history online,” she says.

Speer isn’t the only one who wants to revitalize the discussion forum 

the primary source of person-to-person contact in online courses. Educators are experimenting with a range of ways to increase student involvement. One strategy is to prioritise response quality and thoughtfulness over response quantity and frequency. Another puts the instructor in command, directing discussions to sharper insights like they would from the front of a classroom.

What is the end purpose of all of these efforts? 

Creating a learning experience centred on cooperation as a method of gaining a better knowledge. Millions of students who have taken at least one online course, as well as many face-to-face students, are likely to be familiar with discussion boards. Although many instructors assign less weight to discussion board involvement than to tests or essays, Vanessa Dennen, professor of instructional systems and learning technologies at Florida State University, believes that the significance of student engagement cannot be overstated.

“It is a place to keep them apace with other people, to see who the other people are in the class,” Dennen said. “That ties into all sorts of self-efficacy beliefs, along with a sense of community.”

What Online Discussions Can Do ?

Discussion forums in online courses are often hosted by learning management systems. According to Phil Miller, Blackboard’s chief learning and innovation officer, designers at Blackboard, one of the first major LMS providers to serve higher education, first drew on discussion forums that already existed in “technical circles.”

Initially, many professors, according to Miller, utilised them largely to allow students to identify themselves at the start of a course. Over time, Blackboard received demands for more creative alternatives, such as a “fishbowl” technique in which the instructor and a small group of students discuss a topic while the rest of the class observes.

This progression parallels the path of many seasoned online professors. Charles Hodges, an instructional technology professor at Georgia Southern University, spent the first several years of his online teaching career asking students to respond to a discussion post based on the week’s reading. Over the course of a 16-week semester, this procedure proved stressful for him and, at times, difficult for his pupils to traverse.

When Hodges realised that the majority of his students were replying to the question in the final 30 minutes before the Sunday deadline, he decided to ask them to submit a first post by Wednesday, allowing for a few days for conversation to simmer. He also adjusted his prompts, instead of merely demanding a boring rehash of chapter highlights, he asked probing questions like “What was the most difficult portion of the chapter for you to grasp?” or “How may the reading content apply to your professional practise?”

Still, though, “it felt a little rushed,” Hodges said.

Hodges came up with two major solutions that worked well a few years ago. First, he reduced the amount of discussion postings every semester by half. Second, in addition to written material, he now permits students to react to discussion questions through PowerPoint presentations, YouTube videos, and idea maps. He gives specific ideas for multimedia projects that might improve students’ knowledge in various conversations.

Hodges devised two important remedies that were effective a few years ago. First, he cut the number of discussion postings by half per semester. Second, he now allows students to respond to discussion topics using PowerPoint presentations, YouTube videos, and concept maps, in addition to written material. He provides specific ideas for multimedia projects that might help students increase their knowledge in various topics.

Dennen believes that discussion boards can provide students who are overwhelmed by the topic a personal glimpse at what they can learn from their classmates.

“Twenty-five percent of my class will be unsure about a topic at first.” “However, the 25% of my class that is really confident and enthusiastic about it will proceed with the discussion exercise,” Dennen explained. “They’re setting an example for the rest of the pupils to follow.” Their model appears to be far more feasible [than mine].”

According to Sean Michael Morris, director of digital learning at the University of Mary Washington, rote online debates harm students from underrepresented groups. He is afraid that formulaic conversation prompts may hinder children from effectively expressing themselves or even creating their identity – especially if every student, regardless of background or identity, is expected to weigh in with about the same amount of time.

“By asking open-ended questions and providing students with the chance for conversation in an unassessed or ungraded environment, the discussion forum may become a place inside online learning for ‘college’ to occur,” Morris explained.

The Instructor’s Position

A discussion board assignment’s ultimate purpose is to get students talking to each other. However, teachers who are reconsidering their discussion boards underline that they are actively involved throughout the process.

Some children may be bashful or hesitant to join at first. Dennen makes a point of personally sending emails to students who haven’t contributed much in the first two weeks of her classes. Dennen reassures pupils who believe they are far behind their peers whose discussion board contributions make them appear to be “experts.”

Dennen explained, “That’s the most crucial moment to provide students super-timely feedback and marks on their discussion performance, to let them know if their performance was on track or not.” “It establishes the tone for the rest of the course.”

Speer has designed a discussion board format at Wichita State that appears to be significantly more time-consuming than normal – but she isn’t complaining.

She teaches quantitative methods and research methods in the criminal justice department at the university, as well as an introductory course in American government. She begins each semester by generating five or so discussion threads, each on a pre-determined theme. Students are required to react to at least one thread, but they are free to respond to as many as they choose. Later in the semester, she allows students to create their own threads while cautioning them not to replicate someone else’s.

Speer assigns high credit to posts that “further the topic” rather than whether or not a student posted or the quantity of words in a response. As in a face-to-face conversation, each student who posts builds on what others have said.

“You can affirm and reaffirm all day if you want,” Speer added. “I don’t take credit for that.”

Grading has been more efficient over time as Speer has created a habit of pushing talks toward specific subjects that spark debate. Speer also deducts points for “cluster posting” on any day, but especially on the last day before posts are due. She claims she has never gotten a negative comment on a student review concerning her discussion board technique.

“I don’t fear my message boards. “They don’t feel like they’re doing anything for me,” Speer added. “They’re not too hefty.” They are not my message boards.”

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