Increased student interaction

Two people having coffee

Software: Blackboard

Aim: Create active discussion forums

Why: to increase peer-to-peer interaction so as to create a greater number of learning opportunities

How: Blackboard has a number of collaborative tools such as discussions, blogs and wikis. This example looks specifically at discussions but blogs and wikis can also be used to encourage peer to peer interaction.

You can use discussion forums in different ways such as:

  • virtual coffee shop discussions: general class discussion on any topic (not necessarily related to the subject at hand) this can help build a sense of community.
  • FAQ discussion: use the discussion board to answer student queries, if one student asks a question (even by email) posting the answer to FAQ Discussion allows for the whole group to benefit from the answer
  • non graded discussions: encourage students to learn how to use the discussion forum tool and also to encourage them to get used to think about a particular topic.
  • graded discussions: making a discussion worth a small percentage can encourage students to participate, it is more likely to be more active and to create an a greater number of opportunities for learning. When assigning a grade to a discussion, it is wise to make a rubric available so that students are aware of what is expected of them. 

For more on managing a discussion, see our tips for facilitating online discussions. The School of Nursing & Midwifery have also made a sample rubric available and the below links both provide detailed guidelines about discussions

For the steps on how to create a discussion board see page 28 of the Blackboard Manual