Discussion forum strategies for student interaction
This post shares some essential and basic strategies for setting up and managing a discussion forum within Interact 2. It builds on the recent post by Judy O’Connell, ‘Discussion board structure – or getting the message out!‘
Successful discussion board design and management provides for social and academic learning spaces that attract student attention and engage them to contribute meaningfully.
Note – to see examples shared below more clearly click on each image and open individually
Example 1: Two or more discussion forums
A number of forums can be set up to align with, and in fact hyperlink from, subject learning modules. These can also be used alongside forums that provide for social interaction, such as ‘The cafe is open’ forum, as well as discussion around assignments or other relevant topics. In this example all forums have been designed and created by the subject coordinator to deliberately support student-to-student interaction.
Example 2: Going deeper – threads within forums
Taking the same subject as above, this image shows one of the discussion forum threads. The subject coordinator created the first three threads for essential sharing and interaction around the module material. In addition, students were permitted to create their own threads as needed, as have four students here. This feature can be turned on or off in forum settings during setup.
Example 3: Discussions linked from modules, student initiated threads, lecturer feedback
This example shows lecturer initiated forums (within which student-created threads are also possible as in the above example), with lecturer feedback based on discussion in the forum over about one week.
What works really well also is taking the above example and having students in pairs or groups monitor a forum – post questions, respond, encourage other responses etc, and collaboratively write a summary of the week. This could be part of an assessment task that not only fosters essential student interaction but encourages deeper understanding of module content.
What about ‘assessment’ and discussion forums?
- fosters forum activity
- links in with module content and knowledge development
- provides interesting opportunities for considered debate
- can foster trivial responses and repetition of responses
- does not in itself foster peer-to-peer interaction
Assessment that links to quantity of discussion board contributions needs to also be balanced with quality and variety of activity and provide a purpose for students needing to be part of the conversation.
Written by Julie Lindsay, QLT Leader (online) FoArtsEd