Instructors traditionally use online Discussion Boards to help
determine student understanding, support peer learning,
and encourage participation, particularly among students who are least likely to
contribute to classroom discussion.
While Discussion Boards are well suited for use in classes heavy in debate
and explorative topics, instructors can also use Discussion Boards to manage
student questions, potentially reducing instructional time dedicated to answering
email. If students are encouraged to post questions to a course question and
answer Discussion Board, the whole class can benefit from both the posted
question and the instructor’s response. This is especially helpful for issues like
course navigation, technical support, or peer feedback on projects. With the right
incentives, you may even find students in your class willing to answer questions
and direct others to online resources. Research has shown that this question
articulation and peer interaction benefits both the questioner and the responder!
As a Discussion Board’s content grows, students gain access to resources
and help 24 hours per day, and the instructor gains insight into typical student
struggles and outside resources that students are using to address them.
Students may need small incentives like a single redeemed homework point for
each post or a minimum posting requirement during the term to motivate them to
use a Discussion Board. An instructor may also copy early emails anonymously
to the Discussion Board and respond there – then reply to the students’ email
directing the student to the Discussion Board for his/her response (and for future
use!). Once students start posting, many will find it so useful they’ll need no
Canvas contains a built-in threaded discussion tool in every course,
which includes the ability to post images, equations, audio clips, and even
video. Instructors teaching problem-based courses may find that the free,
seamlessly embeddable Piazza discussion tool, which features a non-threaded
answer format and a robust LaTeX equation editor, works even better.
The CTL Tip of the Week is brought to you by the William G. Jackson Center for
Teaching and Learning (CTL). For more general information or help with Canvas
at Michigan Tech, be sure to visit Canvas One Stop.