Discussion board structure for large, multi-campus subjects

Many subjects across the University still have a single unstructured discussion board. Large forums of this nature can not only be difficult for staff to manage, but they are almost impossible for students to engage with…especially if they have fallen behind in their studies. In this case study, Cathy Maginnis discusses the discussion board structure for a very large, undergraduate nursing subject…..what worked, what didn’t work and what she would improve for next time….

What were you trying to achieve?

NRS311 is a subject with >400 students, offered internally on 4 campuses and in DE mode. To ensure consistency across the cohorts the teaching team merges the 5 i2 sites into a single site. This clearly has the potential to cause “chaos”…..but if well managed can lead to positive outcomes for staff and students alike. Through the use of discussion forums targeted at each assessment item – staff were trying to reduce individual students emailing them for assistance and ensure that all of the questions about a particular task were answered in a single location.

What did it look like?

Cathy Maginnis has recorded a short screen cast demonstrating the structure and use of the NRS311 discussion board in Session 1 2016. Staff created separate discussion forums for each of the assessment tasks and had a direct link from their “Assessment Toolbox” to the relevant discussion forum. Staff also created individual discussion forums for each campus – however, a lack of activity on the campus specific discussion forums indicated to the team that in 2017 they will create additional discussion forums around the subject topics rather than campuses.

Note: There is NO requirement for students to use the discussion forum for assessment purposes in this subject.

How can I make this happen? 

This is a very simple improvement that most subject coordinators can make to their subjects. If you are unsure about how to add extra discussion forums to your i2 site please log a service request with the Division of Student Learning and an Educational Designer will contact you. 

Blackboard Help also has lots of extra information about the use of Discussion Boards. 

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