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).
Examples for Using Discussion Boards
  • 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