Monday, June 24, 2013

Discussion Board Tips For Students

Have you ever been in a class and be required to use the Blackboard (Bb) discussion board? The  discussion board tool itself has evolved over to give you more creativity and control of the why you present the content to complete the task. If you need help using the discussion board tool you can, (1) get text instructions at the SU Blackboard Support page, (2) watch the videos within the SU Atomic Learning site, (3) look at Bb's On Demand support site for students, (4) check out Bb's Help Wiki just for students, (5) send an email to from you SU email, (6) or practice within the open student Bb course within the "Help & Support" button on course menus.

The key to successfully successfully completing a discussion board requirement is not just knowing how to use the tool. You should review the grading rubric within for the discussion board to better understand how your grade will be calculated and what key items must be included in the post. The final task is to collect the content and right the discussion board post. Below are 5 tips that may help you make quality submissions.

1. Firstly, be sure to read all the submissions by your classmates. Most learning platforms, like Blackboard, give your instructor and option to see which students have read what. However, please don’t approach an online forum with the reduced mindset that you HAVE to participate and that I am checking up on your level of engagement, because then in reality you will lose sight of the point of the exercise. For example, if you were in a brick and mortar classroom you would “hear’ all the comments, so why wouldn’t you read all the comments in an online class? The more you participate in the forum the more you will get out of it. Also note that Bb now allows instructors to require you to submit your discussion board post BEFORE you can read your classmates submissions.
2. Despite what I just said please recognize that an online forum does not translate exactly to a discussion in a traditional class. Because the discussion board is asynchronous the responsibility is on all the members of the class to make sure that the conversation flows, and this only happens if students buy into the assessment and do the work.
3. When you are commenting on the posts of your classmates, stay away from the “That’s a good point, Joe.” Or “I agree, Sue.” Those types of comments good places to start but please do not end there. Give your fellow classmates feedback and tell them why it is a good point or how it resonated with you. Put yourself in the role of your teacher and critically evaluate the post of your classmate by providing substantive feedback in the form of a detailed and well thought out response. Peer feedback is the most powerful kind! In addition to assisting your classmates it will help you learn how to critically evaluate a piece of writing. This is a life skill that will serve you long after you leave the classroom.
4. Remember that an online forum is meant to be a discussion, so always respond to those classmates that respond to your original posts. This develops community and rapport and quite frankly it is the polite thing to do. You wouldn’t ignore someone if they spoke to you, would you?
5. Finally, feel free to discuss your opinions on the topic, but always remember to be respectful of different positions that maybe voiced. If your opinion is backed up by facts, be sure to reference your sources appropriately. Some discussion boards are designed to not have a right or wrong answer whereas others ask for research to support a position. Be sure to recognize the difference and respond accordingly. 
Faculty use discussion board forums to assist in learning, assess understanding of content, and expect the contributions from students to be worthwhile and meaningful!

No comments:

Post a Comment