on subject matter it is often most effective to post questions that
require students to analyze an issue or offer an informed opinion
supported by the evidence. A litany of canned factual responses
to a narrow question does not make for a good discussion. Although
it can help to clarify what students understand and what they do not.
Simple factual questions and answers are often best left to quiz formats.
Additional options for
use of a discussion board follow. These examples from Santa
Monica illustrate the use of a variety of other boards.
This example shows a very
simple Question and Answer bulletin board. In this introductory
chemistry class taught by Professor Peggy Kline at Santa Monica College,
student's questions are listed with the most recent first, and Peggy's
replies are listed in the right hand column. As you scroll down
the list, and therefore backwards in time, you can see how the questions
evolved from very general questions about the course and about Peggy,
to detailed questions about course content. Many questions have
been deleted since the original list was very long. Note in
particular a few instances where Peggy has copied content from an
email message received from a student, then pasted it into the question
and answer forum instead. This strategy quickly teaches the
students to use the bulletin board instead of email unless the question
question and answer bulletin board
Here is a more typical
threaded discussion in which the indentation of comments indicates
whether the individual is initiating a new topic or replying to a
topic that someone else has already posted. In this example,
Professor Kay Azuma of Santa Monica College has chosen to initiated
a "thread" about genetics for her Human Biology class.
She posts problems and asks her students to post their answers.
You can see how she encourages student participation by using their
names in the examples, and how she gently corrects students who have
posted incorrect answers, leading them to the right conclusion without
stating it directly.
problems with student solutions
Here's a interesting example
that makes use of voice software sold by wimba.com. It is a
discussion board in which the comments and replies can be heard via
streaming audio rather than read. Why? Well, as illustrated
in this example from a Spanish 1 class taught by Professor Maria Erickson
at Santa Monica College, there are some disciplines in which the students'
must be heard by their instructor! And if you're not a Spanish
speaker, fear not--you can still get an idea of how this software
works and how effective it can be for instruction in language and