Routine Administrative Tasks
- Write meaningful, thought provoking discussion forum prompts
- Check content area discussion forums for new posts
- Check emails, student lounge, tech help forum and other places for student questions, concerns or comments that need replies
- Contact students that are not participating or are participating too much; communicate with students regularly to promote a strong learning community
- Update links, due dates, and web resources accordingly
Discussion Board Strategies
- Establish a sense of community and open communication between students and instructor early in the course.
- Provide clear and specific guidelines and expectations for participation/ contributions to the discussion boards
- Set clear and manageable deadlines for postings and encourage students to get their work done early. Make a student post an initial response to the discussion prompt earlier than the module due date so that all students have time to respond to the posts by the deadline.
- Develop engaging prompts that promote an active discussion.
- Encourage posts that provide explanations, examples, questions, speculations, alternative viewpoints, and connections to personal experience.
- Model exemplary behavior and motivate students to participate in discussions. Respond to a few of the early posts to ensure students that they are on the right track or try to redirect students if they are not.
- Prepare for the discussion and actively participate with the class.
Evaluating Discussion Board Posts
|Quality of Posts||The contributions made are extremely profound and relevant to the discussion topic. Student demonstrates knowledge of the subject matter and offers explanations and connections that keep the discussion active.||The contributions made are sufficient but not extremely significant. Student displays an average grasp of the subject matter and offers enough explanation but nothing that motivates a lively discussion.||The contributions made are of little substance and do not add anything of significance to the discussion forum.|
|Quantity of Posts||Student makes at least 3 posts to the discussion forum. The first response should offer personal insight and be at least 200 words in length. The other two posts should be in response to other posts and offer constructive criticism or significant feedback.||Student posts at least their initial response and some response to another post. These posts may be lacking in the requirements of length or depth.||Student does not post a sufficient initial response and/or does not reply to others in discussion forum.|
|Timeliness||Student posts to the discussion forum by the required deadlines. Initial post is made by the first deadline to provide enough time for classmates to respond by the ending due date of the discussion forum.||Student posts their responses to the discussion forum but is either late posting their initial response or late posting their responses to their classmates’ posts.||Student either does not participate in the discussion forum or misses the deadlines for their contributions.|
|Grammar||There are no spelling, punctuation or grammar errors throughout the post.||There are a few spelling, punctuation, or grammar errors within the post.||There are numerous grammar errors within the post or the post seems hastily written.|
Discussion Board Management Issues/ Solutions
- Topics are uninteresting/ unmotivating and don’t illicit meaningful responses from majority of learners.
Solution: Instructor needs to prepare for the discussion and write discussion topics that motivate and pull students into the conversation.
- A few students dominate the conversation.
Solution: Instructor should email these students and try to encourage them to allow other students a chance to participate before responding to every post.
- Too many students and postings to follow and students become overwhelmed.
- Posting original thoughts becomes difficult in large discussion forums.
- Some learners may feel isolated if they don’t receive a response/feedback.
Solution to 3, 4, & 5: Instructor should break apart a large group into smaller groups for discussions.
- Expectations/Guidelines for discussion weren’t clearly communicated by the instructor.
Solution: Instructor should provide a manageable amount of reading and coursework and clearly communicate this from the beginning of a discussion. If students become confused, try to offer clarification by posting the expectations to the discussion forum answering student questions/concerns.
- Remarks/topics may leave some learners offended/upset.
Solution: Instructor should emphasize netiquette and model appropriate behavior throughout the course.
- Discussion board isn’t monitored closely by the instructor.
- Discussion becomes stagnant too quickly or students do not post responses with enough substance.
Solution to 8 & 9: Instructor needs to prioritize their time and efforts in the class to manage an effective online discussion and make sure that they are “seen” by the class.
10. Technical Issues with the program may arise.
Solution: Instructor should make themselves available for student questions throughout the discussion and to help troubleshoot any technical difficulties that should arise.
Other Management Issues
- Encourage good time management strategies and study skills for students
- Promote good netiquette and use of appropriate language amongst students
- Provide accommodations and considerations for students of varying learning and emotional needs
Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities: Effective strategies for the virtual classroom. (2nd ed., pp. 3-43). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Fischer, K., Reiss, D., & Young, A. Ten tips for generating engaged online discussions. Electronic communication across the curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.wordsworth2.net/activelearning/ecacdiscustips.htm