Over the past dozen years of working with faculty, I’ve heard one resonating theme with regard to using online discussion boards… “I struggle to get students to participate in online discussion.”
Here are a few tips (in no particular order) that I’ve found to help spark conversation and make the discussion boards more lively in the online classes I teach. Perhaps they might blow away the tumbleweeds in your forums.
- Make participation graded. Have a set number of posts and make them graded. This helps prime the pump of discussion.
- Participate in the discussion yourself. I’ve found much greater involvement and interest from my students when I’m actively posting and responding in the forums too.
- Beyond the initial discussion prompt, ask further questions (even to specific students), play devil’s advocate, share related personal experiences
- Encourage and point out positive responses that students have posted for their peers.
- Share videos and resources that relate to the topic and encourage students to find and share content with the class.
There are also resources right here at Ohio State that can help faculty bolster their effectiveness in both online and in-class teaching. For starters, check out the University Center for the Advancement of Teaching. They have a number of articles and links that are quite helpful in strengthening pedagogy… I also hear they have intensive workshops on course design. Check them out at: ucat.osu.edu
I hope you enjoy some of these strategies for facilitating effective online forums…
Do you have any tips that have worked well to build an active discussion board? Please share below!