Creating Successful Discussion Boards

Introduction to Discussion Boards:

Online discussion boards provide interaction from instructor to student, and also student to student.

Here are some approaches used to get students to participate thoughtfully and frequently:

  • Consider expectations, such as length of message, level of formality, and frequency
  • Make time to spend reviewing and participating on the discussion board during the week.
  • Encourage students to use the discussion board to share knowledge and ask for what they need, instead of emailing the instructor directly.
  • Structure discussions in advance and connect the discussions to your course objectives.
  • Consider including discussion participation in course grade.
  • Use open-ended questions to target higher order thinking skills (application, analysis, evaluation).
Discussion Board Video Tutorials:

Discussion boards are a great tool for communication between you and your students and also between students. The collection of videos provided here are great resources which will help you get started if you are new to setting up discussion boards in Canvas.

Introduction to Discussion Boards: This Discussions Overview Video provides information on how to get started on discussion boards. The video introduces the interface, discussion settings, pinning discussions, closing discussions, and subscribing to discussions.

Creating a Discussion Board: This Create a Discussion Board Video provides a detailed overview of how to create a discussion board and explains the meaning and effects of each option. If you want to set up groups in one section or cross-sections for group assignments or discussions, you can go to this Creation and Management Video

Managing Discussion Boards: This Canvas Discussion Board and Modules Tip Video gives information on how to manage and view Canvas discussion boards including how to collapse replies.  

Grading Discussion Boards in Speedgrader: To grade the discussions, you can go to the How to Create, Manage, & Grade Discussions Video or read How Do I Grade a Graded Discussion in SpeedGrader?

Using Discussion Board Examples:
  • After a guest speaker – ask the students to provide highlights, document what they learned, and encourage students to comment on other students’ posts.
  • After reading an article, have students identify key points in their own words.
  • At the end of lecture, introduce the discussion question related to the content presented.
Advice to Begin:
  • Create groups of four or five students on Canvas to help with management. Students will be required to discuss within their group, but are welcome to comment in other groups’ discussions.
  • Establish a discussion board with four basic forum topics:
    • Introductions (Instructor should post first, providing an example)
    • Lecture/Materials Questions
    • Technology Questions
    • General Q&A