Not Another Discussion Board

February 16, 2023

It is always interesting bringing the perspective as an instructional designer, a professor, and a student to online learning. It has led me to a love/hate relationship with discussion boards. As an instructional designer, I recognize the need to incorporate student-to-student interactions to help build an online community of learners. As a professor, I witness students’ lack of interaction within the discussion board or even just skipping the activity all together. And finally as a student, I see the discussion board as tedious and boring. I often complete it as a “checklist” than actually taking the time to interact at the level I know I should. Rather than continue this monotonous use of discussion boards, let’s try and think outside of the box. Below I outline three alternative student-to-student strategies that you can implement.

Collaborative Brainstorming

Propose a wicked problem relevant to the topic of the course. Students can virtually brainstorm a solution using Google docs, Miro, Jamboard, etc. You can then use peer review or a discussion board for students to share their solutions and continue the conversation.

Small Group Virtual Discussions

Set up student groups at the beginning of the course. These groups can then meet virtually (without the instructor) about a topic. For a grade, use individual reflection on the experience.

Peer Review

Peer review is a great way for students to be exposed to other perspectives. Used along with reflection, students can learn from their peers’ responses to the original assignment and projects, leading to individual growth.

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