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Blackboard's discussion board like other online internet forums or message boards is a tool that allows students to participate in asynchronous discussions on varieties of topics usually chosen by you, the instructor. Usually the instruction initiates the conversation, students then chime in and then you jump in from time to time to offer feedback, correct misconceptions and guide the conversation towards your curricular goal. Before we start, let me give you three best practices I've picked up over the years.
First, don't assume that your students know how to participate in an online discussion. You will most likely need to teach your students the mechanics of how to use the discussion board, how to access it, how to post, how to reply. It is a good bet that your students don't know how to do anything of these things yet. You need to teach them. The second best practice I want to share with you is to set your expectations at the beginning. How many posts per week? What constitutes a substantive post? What ettiquete rules you want your students to follow.
In other words, in addition to teaching your students the mechanics of using Blackboard's discussion board. You're also absolutely going to have to teach your students how to participate in a scholarly conversation. Your students may have extensive experience using Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, but their posts on those sites have been anything but scholarly. You're going to need to scaffold how to write high-quality, deliberative, scholarly discussion board posts. That actually leads to the third best practice.
In the beginning, model the behavior you're looking for. Your students will look to you for guidance. Your posts, their frequency, their content will set the stage for all subsequent discussion. So, those are my three best practices. How do you access Blackboard's discussion board? Well, the easiest way is on the course menu. Just click on Discussions. It's usually a default link. If it's not there, remember that you can add it by going an adding a Tool Link, and then choosing Discussions.
We talked about that in an earlier chapter. You can also go to Course Menu > Tools, and then scroll down and click on Discussion Board. And as an instructor under Course Management>Course Tools you also have access to this discussion board here. And this gets you into the discussion board, although you have to choose the course if you go through that way. One other thing I really strongly recommend you do this, is go to one of the content areas of your course and if you want your students to participate in a discussion, during a particular week or unit, add a link to that discussion by going to Tools and choosing Discussion Board.
So, let's get into the discussion board. And, how do you set this up? Well, it's a two-step process. First, you have to create a forum, a room in which the conversation will take place and then second, you have to create a thread or conversation on a particular topic. Both are required. To create a forum, what you're going to do is click Create Forum. By the way, a tip, create at least two forums. A scholarly forum, and a non-scholarly forum, which I usually just call the parking lot.
The parking lot gives students a place to post off topic contents, insuring the posts in your other forum, and other forums. Stay on topic. An alternative is you can create forums by topics, units, or weeks. So let's create this first forum. We're going to have this as a scholarly forum. And I'll call it weekly class discussions. The name is required. And the description actually isn't the description. I count on a description as being the instructions.
And if you have access to the exercise files, I've got some text here that you can copy, if not, you can just copy this off the screen or type whatever you want. So, I'm giving the students the instruction and sort of framing the experience for them before they even get into the room of what I want my students to do, how many posts I want pert week. And, what I expect them to do. going to scroll down, is the forum going to be available, in other words, are the students ever going to be able to participate in this.
I'm going to say yes. I can do date and time restrictions, I'm not going to worry about that here. I'm going to scroll down, and then something new in service pack 12. Instructors can now require students to first post to a forum before they can see other students' posts. If you want to make sure that the students are actually engaged, this might be a smart idea. I'm going to leave in a standard view for now, though. So I also have the ability here to grade it. In other words, do I want to grade my forum or not.
Well, it's up to you. My recommendation is, if you're going to have lots and lots and lots of posts in a forum, I would grade the forum, not the threads. And I can sit here and say, grade discussion forum points possible. We'll make this worth ten points. What this does is it turns on a couple other options where I can say there's a needs grading status that's going to show up within my grade center and also under needs grading in the grade center subset view.
And I can have it remind me. I can set a due date. It's actually a really smart idea as we saw in the calendar to have a due date of when you're going to do it. I'll turn it off though in this case. Subscription allows students to subscribe to a particular forum or thread. It kind of gives them a message saying new information has been posted here, go back. It's completely up to you, I will leave it on and allow members to subscribe to the forum. And do I want to include the body of the post? In other words, the message that was posted to the discussion form or a link back to the course.
I kind of want my students coming back to my class as many times as possible, so I'm actually not going to do, include body of the post. I'm going to include a link to the post. Because this is a graded forum, I'm not going to allow anonymous posts automatically, by the way if I go back and turn no grading in forum back off, then I can actually do anonymous posts, but because it's graded, well, no anonymous posts. I'm not going to allow my students to delete their own post. If they submit it, I'm going to grade it, you can change that if you want.
Do I want the students to be able to edit their posts after they put them to the discussion board? No. I think you've, you submit it you're done. Do I want the students to be able to create new threads? This is actually a philosophical debate. If you uncheck this, your discussion forums are dead until you create the first post. And then students can reply to your post, but you're kind of running the shop. If I check this, then students can come in and create their own new threads.
I kind of leave this on, but it's up to you. Do I want my students to be able to attach files? Yes or no? Do I want students to be able to quote? Force moderation. I'll come back to that in a later movie. And we'll talk about post tagging and rating also in a later movie. So I'm going to click on submit. And that creates the first forum, but remember I recommended that you have two forums. You want to have a parking lot as well where students can do off topic content. So, I'm going to create a second forum.
Call it the Parking Lot and post a description here and clean that up. And in this case, I'm just going to leave the default settings. I'm not going to change anything here, I'll just click on submit. So now I've got two forums. Again, I can rearrange this. And we're ready now to go to the next part. What I need to do is there's no discussion that can take place in this until a thread has been started. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to access my forum.
I click on the name of the forum, and now I have to click on create thread, and what I'm doing is I'm starting the conversation. Students won't see this button unless you allow students to create threads in the forum settings. And when I click on create thread This should look familiar. We've seen this pretty much every time we've had to do anything within our course. So, I'm going to go back here. I've already created what my first forum thread is going to be. I'm going to copy the Week One, paste it and go back and I'm going to copy the question, the prompt That I have for my students.
And I'm going to click that, and paste it in here. So I've created a forum, and now I'm creating a thread. Within that, I can attach something, and I'm going to click on Submit. So, how do you set up the discussion board? It's a two step process. First, you have to create a forum, or a room in which the conversation will take place. Second, you have to create a thread or conversation on a particular topic. With the forums and threads now in place, we're now ready to look at ways we can facilitate discussions and that's the topic of our next movie.
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