Discussion Board Blackboard
What is a discussion board? An online discussion board, also known by various other names such as discussion board platforms, is a term for any online “bulletin board” where you can leave messages and expect to see responses to your messages. For course instructors, these message boards serve as an online discussion platform for students in online courses — an asynchronous discussion tool that allows students to collaborate with others through posting thoughts or answering questions outside of a physical classroom.
Originating within the Learning Management Systems themselves, online course discussions have evolved since their early days. For example, the ability for instructors to better organize discussion threads as well as the introduction of more modern social-based communication elements like mentions, have made them much more attractive. However, the limitations of many of the traditional discussion board tools remain, including those of the discussion board Blackboard.
Discussion forums, like the Blackboard tool and those found in other LMSs, have become a standard way for students to interact with course content. But these forums are typically text-based and can be challenging to extract deep engagement from students. Nevertheless, the online discussion board is proving to be a powerful tool.
It fosters a sense of community and encourages student-to-student interaction, which research demonstrates improves learner engagement and achievement. Discussion boards for students give all learners the opportunity to expand and clarify their understanding of key ideas. It moves beyond the passive learning forms of reading and listening and allows the learner to actively engage with their peers and instructor. Here, we explore some of the ways and benefits of these boards, and even dive into blackboard discussion board examples.
Blackboard Tools for Online Teaching
Thankfully, the discussion board has evolved since their early LMS days, including Blackboard tools for online teaching. For example, the ability for instructors to better organize discussion threads as well as the introduction of more modern social-based communication elements like mentions, have made them much more attractive. However, the challenges of many traditional online discussion tools remain.
The types of online discussion forums found in most LMSs, including Blackboard tools, have become a standard way for students to interact with course content. The problem is that they only give students one way — and one way only — to contribute. These forums are typically text-based and can be challenging to extract deep engagement from students, especially when group discussion topics for students are fleshed out. They are also notoriously difficult for instructors to track and grade student participation. In fact, in a survey of over 350 educators, 61% said that they spend more than two hours each week attempting to grade discussions, noting their biggest challenge on this front was searching through threads from last-minute participation.
From a usability and visual design standpoint, the way an LMS presents discussions is challenging and unengaging. Text-heavy threads and conversations are tough to follow, and the LMS itself doesn’t do a great job of pushing students toward being better collaborators nor instructors toward being better facilitators. The origin of an online discussion platform in learning management systems — institution’s centralized course management system — makes sense. However, while the LMS has evolved significantly over the years and continues to be essential for supporting teaching & learning, they’re hard pressed to try and do it all.
A suite of online discussion board tools, Harmonize integrates seamlessly with the LMS, like Blackboard, to facilitate a more engaging online learning experience. These tools focus attention on the activities that drive engagement, including:
- Powering collaboration during course prep with instructors and among students.
- Creating multi-directional synchronous and asynchronous communication pathways during coursework to build community.
- Fostering inclusive opportunities by removing barriers, enabling flexibility, and expanding access.
To achieve the kind of participation and engagement you’d like in your online discussions, consider implementing tools made for this activity — using seamless Blackboard integrations.
Using the Blackboard integration to implement Harmonize, you can facilitate a more engaging online learning experience. These digital learning tools increase the quality and quantity of student-to-student, student-to-content, and student-to-instructor interactions and include:
- Rich Multimedia
- Video, Image, and Document Annotation
- Built-in Chat, Polling & Q&A
- Tagging, Notification & Reactions
- Streamlined Grading to Save Instructors Time
- Engagement Insights to Monitor Student Participation Trends
Harmonize’s full and seamless LMS integration Blackboard means no additional logins for users and a streamlined, time-saving grading experience for instructors. It’s everything an instructor needs to increase student engagement in online discussions, easily complete Blackboard grading, and promote inclusive learning, while saving time and eliminating manual tasks.
Discussion Board Reply Examples
There are many discussion board reply examples as well as general discussion board responses you can leverage. First though, you’ll want to find relevant questions here and use these online discussion examples to craft questions.
Just as important, you’ll want to use creative discussion board ideas to build an interactive discussion. An interactive discussion example includes fostering a space for students to create social presence, interact, and practice leadership — doing that will help create a more interactive space. Once you have your discussion going, it’s time to start responding to students. But you just might be wondering how to respond to a discussion post on Blackboard?
As opposed to using a discussion reply generator, consider this an opportunity to pull shy students out of their shell — in ways they wouldn’t in a physical classroom. To do this, you should respond to a student’s post in at least one of three ways: with a follow-up question, affirmation or praise, or other feedback.
To mimic face-to-face learning experiences online, be sure to respond frequently to your students, whether it’s private or public, and asking a follow-up question to a student’s post will encourage that student to dig deeper on the topic. Here are some discussion board response prompts:
- How do you believe that this discussion topic is related to your professional goals? I appreciate your reflection.
- Apply what you learned from this activity to some aspect of your life and share your findings with our colleagues. Thanks!
- It is clear you are making deep connections to the material presented here. If you were to suggest resources for someone interested in learning more about this topic, what would you suggest?
- Were you able to locate any peer-reviewed research to support your answer to this discussion prompt? If so, what source(s) did you find most valuable?
- If we wanted to extend this discussion beyond what has been shared so far, what additional questions could we ask?
Many of these kinds of responses draw on the theory of Transformational Learning, whereby learners who are getting new information are also evaluating their past ideas and understanding, and are shifting their very worldview as they obtain new information and through critical reflection. In addition to reinforcing learning, doing this shows that you value their contributions and allows you to further identify students who may not be grasping concepts fully. You can also highlight the good points your students have made. Your affirmation encourages students to post more often and stay engaged. Here is a response to a post example that would effectively engage a student and encourage them to continue sharing their thoughts.
While discussion rubrics and auto-grading for participation can help streamline the grading process, it’s important to provide additional feedback to students that the other students don’t see. This feedback might be a simple compliment on a good post, or it might be more in-depth coaching. Save this kind of qualitative feedback for students who have gone above and beyond expectations or when students are struggling.
Reminder…This is formative assessment. It may take students time to meet your expectations for discussion posts. Be sure your feedback clearly states areas to improve or what you’d like to see next time, and make certain you give students enough time to implement those changes.
It’s also tempting to respond only to early posters. It could be helpful to keep a running tally of who you have responded to each week, so that you’re sure to interact with everyone throughout the course and on an ongoing basis
Blackboard Partners & Benefits of Online Discussion Boards
Finally, to increase student interactions, consider varying the group size of discussions — a key capability of a good discussion board platform. It creates opportunities for more students to lead discussions, and it also helps those students who are more comfortable sharing in small groups. But to create a space that can support these kinds of activities, you have to have the right tools.
Effective online discussion boards also have a user experience that mimic familiar experiences often have the highest usability — think features like tagging/mentions, reactions, in-app and email notifications, and social media-like interfaces. If a student or instructor logs in and can connect the screen they’re viewing to something they are familiar with from their personal lives, they’re more likely to engage.
When it comes to online discussions, the benefits of online discussion forums for students are far ranging. Online learning can be isolating or overwhelming for students, which can lead to decreased motivation and increased attrition. Discussion boards are a way to provide connection to others.
Asynchronous online discussions also allow for wider participation and deeper, more thoughtful treatment of the topic. Students have time to think before responding and to edit their responses before sharing them with others, especially helpful for learning outside of face-to-face class time.
A good online discussion provides an opportunity for collaboration in online learning — which can sometimes be challenging to facilitate in a digital environment. Collaborative learning opportunities support deeper throat, increase student engagement in online learning, and can help students improve their ability to transfer learning to new contexts.
Finally, one of the most important advantages of online discussion forums is the connection it fosters. The online discussion board is critical for creating social presence and community online. Presence and community foster emotional connection — and these elements are key in improving engagement and, in turn, academic outcomes.
In fact, results from a landmark meta-analysis that looked across 213 studies involving more than 270,000 students found that social and emotional learning (SEL):
- Increased students’ academic performance by 11 percentile points.
- Increased students’ ability to manage stress and depression.
- Improved students’ attitudes about themselves.
That said, not many institutions are able to fully realize these benefits yet because they continue to rely on the basic built-in discussion forums of learning management systems, like those of Blackboard. .
Don’t make technology one of the barriers to participation. Capabilities for creating smaller, student-led, and more interactive discussions in Blackboard are possible. With blackboard partners like Harmonize, you can do all this and more, including tagging instructors or other students and flagging questions for more feedback — all of which lead to increased student activity and engagement.