In an online course managed through Desire2Learn (D2L), discussion happens over a span of days or weeks, rather than the focused discussion of face-to-face classes. This online training video covers how to set up and manage an asynchronous discussion board, and best practices for productively blending the discussion board with the larger agenda of an online course.
- [Instructor] Managing asynchronous discussion boards can overwhelm even the most diligent instructors. This video provides you with some best practices and some technical tips. Let's start with your own behavior on a board. Think about your discussion board participation as occurring on a spectrum. First, you don't want to be absent on the board entirely and trust it to self-moderate. I used to wait until a board had closed before participating and sometimes this meant that discussion didn't go to the most productive place. I've even heard horror stories about boards turning into collective complaint sessions where students vent, argue, and post endless unanswered questions and the instructor has no idea that anything is wrong.
Being absent on the discussion boards is one of the clearest ways to send students the message that they're on their own. On the other end of the spectrum, though you don't want to take over the board entirely. Just like in a face-to-face environment, a discussion board is not a lecture. It serves a different pedagogical purpose. With that in mind, your goal should be to strike a balance and push discussion forward with different types of comments and follow-ups. This is especially important if you require participation, since if some students write entire essays that take up all the obvious points, you wanna make sure that other students who want to participate see opportunities to do so.
The rest of this clip will cover some more technical things that you can do to make boards easier to manage. So let's drop into demo. Let's start with when you set up the boards. First, make sure each topic has a clear identity and objective. It could be to house a debate, to do a close read of a text, or to post or gather resources. This is best communicated in the title area for the board. I'm going to use the title, Find a Fallacy Scavenger Hunt, which is a really fun exercise I do sometimes, where students bring in real world examples of flawed logic or argument and we build up a collection.
It lends itself perfectly to this kind of board. Generic boards, like unit one discussion though, put the burden of discussion on students, and giving each board its own scope helps generate positive results. Speaking of positive results, consider also using the rating system, which allows users to search for the most productive comments, a useful trait when a board starts getting up over 40 posts or so. You're also going to want to be very clear about your expectations for successful participation, communicating how posts will be assessed, the expected number of post, length of post, or type of post.
You can cover this as an external document in the content page or here in the descriptions area. But also consider going over to the assessment tab and then adding a dedicated discussion board rubric. A holistic rubric is especially useful for this purpose. Finally, I recommend writing up a summary of the discussion board, drawing attention to the dominant themes or most productive comments that students can explore. It works best if you reference students by name in this overview and quote from their comments.
You can place this as your own post on the board if you want but I also generally recommend sending an email to the student class list or posting a note on the news page here in the course home area. Those are just some best practices for managing boards and I hope that you take them to heart. Just like in a face-to-face class, your going to set the tone. And if you treat the board as an afterthought, then your students will as well. For more details about setting up boards, refer to the video, Set Up a Course Discussion Board.
- Communicating with students
- Developing course competencies and learning objectives
- Setting up a classroom, include a digital dropbox and discussion board
- Adding assignments, quizzes, and exams
- Providing feedback
- Setting up a gradebook
- Customizing Desire2Learn
- Managing discussion boards
- Using Desire2Learn as a student