- How are you using discussion forums in your courses? Rita describes two general ways in which she uses discussion forums: to help students apply class concepts and to support collaborative projects. Key terms: application, group memory, test preparation, group projects.
- What learning outcomes are best supported by discussion forum activities? Rita describes three major outcomes: demonstration of conceptual understanding and the ability to apply that understanding, demonstration of good communication skills, and management of group process. Key terms: application, personal experiences, civil, accountable, communication, rules, facilitate, group process, social outlier.
- What expectations do you set for students, how do you structure the activities, and how do you assess student performance? Rita explains what she expects from students in terms of the quantity and quality of their participation. Key terms: syllabus, civil, reasoned, discourse, rules, depth of insight.
- Do you allow students to post anonymously? Rita describes why she requires posts to be identifiable based on grading and behavioral concerns. She talks about the benefits of online discussion, especially for high communication apprehensive and international students. She shares some findings from her own courses in terms of participation rate and the effects of recognizing individual student participation. Key terms: anonymity, accountability, grading, tracking, civil discourse, communication apprehensive, first generation, response framing
- Do you have any additional evidence that the discussion activities are effective? Rita describes the connection between discussion board work and students’ ability to conduct a thorough and insightful case study analysis. She has observed that practice applying concepts on the discussion forums helps students with the case study questions on the exams. Key terms: case study analysis, application, confident, memory
- What is your role in moderating discussion forum activity? Rita describes her "hands-off" role in the day-to-day discussions and how she monitors project group discussions and responds to questions directed to her. If she needs to respond to an individual student, she does it privately and not on the forum. Key terms: safe space
- Are there other instructional strategies supported by discussion forums? Rita describes dynamic use of special discussion forums for preparing students for difficult topics. These discussion forms become an organizing structure, but she is careful not to overwhelm students. Key terms: reflect, preparation
- Were there any challenges or unexpected outcomes that emerged? Rita describes observed difference between less experienced students and advanced students have more experience with D2L. 100 and 200-level groups don’t use the discussion boards as much to manage project work. Key terms: group process, project management, differences
- What advice would you give to an instructor interested in using discussion forums? Rita offers advice for faculty trying discussion forums for the first time. Don’t panic, reuse topics across courses, you don’t need to set up all of them prior to the start of the term, avoid the temptation to monitor them continuously, and more. Key terms: advice, transferable, reuse, workload
- Provide students with a choice of discussion topics. In one of her classes, Rita asks students to participate in 5 of 24 chapter discussion topics during the course of the semester. Twelve topics are available during the first half of the term and another 12 during the second half. Students can chose the topics and the time during the during which they prefer to participate. Students receive 0 to 5 points per discussion topic based on fullness of response and insight. They can post a direct response to the topic or a reply to another student’s post. (Segment 3)
- Describe the benefits of participation to students. Rita tells her students that, based on past experience, those who participate in the discussion forums and who spread that participation evenly across the semester, tend to do better in the course. (Segment 3)
- Recognize notable student contributions publicly. Rita calls attention to notable posts during class and uses them to stimulate and support discussion. (Segment 4)
- Design discussions to encourage modeling and practice. Rita designs discussion activities that allow students to practice or model the depth of thought and careful communication of complex ideas that will be required on exams and class presentations. (Segments 5 & 7)
- Don't be overly critical of student posts on the public forum. Rita avoids criticizing student posts on the forum. Instead, she responds privately. (Segment 6)
- There is no need to reply to every post. Rita removes herself from the day-to-day discussion, responding only when necessary. This reduces her workload and prevents students from developing a false sense of affirmation. (Segments 6 & 9)
- Support entry-level students. Rita has observed that new students tend to need more support than upper-level students, particularly when using discussion forums to facilitate group projects. (Segment 8)
- Pace yourself and don't panic. Rita emphasizes that there is no need to come up with all of the discussion topic at the start of the semester. Instructors can pace themselves and make adjustments on the fly.
- Improved students' conceptual understanding, communication skills, and management of group process. (Segments 1 & 2)
- Improved students' ability to conduct a thorough and insightful case study analysis. (Segment 5)
- High communication apprehensive and international students opened up more. (Segment 4)
Learn How to Replicate Rita's Activity in Your Own Course
Using D2L Discussions Forums to support student application of course content
Learn More About the D2L Discussion Tool
Learn More About Discussion Technology
Learn More About Facilitating Class Discussion
Learn More About Collaborative Learning