Making blackboard discussion boards work for students intellectual and social goals
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Making Blackboard Discussion Boards Work for Students' Intellectual and Social Goals. Diane Lemonnier Schallert Dept. of Educational Psychology [email protected] Outline of my 15-minutes. Setting the stage What, why, and how to use Blackboard discussion board

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Making Blackboard Discussion Boards Work for Students' Intellectual and Social Goals

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Making Blackboard Discussion Boards Work for Students' Intellectual and Social Goals

Diane Lemonnier Schallert

Dept. of Educational Psychology

[email protected]


Outline of my 15-minutes

  • Setting the stage

    • What, why, and how to use Blackboard discussion board

  • Assessment and Learning or Learning and Assessment

    • The philosophical dilemma

  • 3 Ways I have found I COULD assess learning through online discussion


Why use online discussion?

  • Invariably makes participation more shared

  • Allows everyone to benefit from the wisdom of the less talkative students

  • Allows a teacher to know HOW students are understanding a construct

  • Allows all to enjoy course content in a different (more creative?) way


What and How I use BB

  • I use the Discussion Board function of BB

  • I replace a class meeting with online discussion

  • I assign students to groups of 8-10 (no more than 4 groups per class)

  • I give a starter comment but make it different in each group and encourage students to read and choose to comment on whatever they want

  • I have a minimum assignment of 3 comments in a 36- or 48-hour period


Learning and Assessment

  • What does it mean to learn from being in a conversation with someone?

    • One’s ideas are made clearer, one’s ideas are changed by rubbing up against another’s, learning is made more fun

  • How can one know that learning has taken place?

    • Brilliant talk that sparkles but is not a reflection of on-the-spot learning

    • But it DOES happen that students learn from LISTENING to (or reading) talk

    • AND, it happens that students learn from making explicit their ideas, making them “come out of the fog”


3 Ways to Foster Good Things and Assess them with Blackboard Discussions

  • Important to set the tone and take the right stance as the leader of the “chat”

  • Make it important to re-read the transcript of the discussion afterwards

  • Consider using discussion as the actual evaluation (test) of learning


1. Tone and stance influence learning

  • Students CAN easily avoid learning from written discussion

  • Teacher CAN easily influence whether students learn from discussion

    • Don’t be punitive

    • Encourage but don’t shy away from pointing misunderstandings

    • Stay in there a LOT!


2. Re-reading of discussion leads to learning

  • Encourage students to re-read discussion once it’s over by asking questions on next exam

  • Bring in comments from the discussion to next face-to-face meeting


3. Use discussion as test answers

  • Because each posting from a student can be seen as an essay, you could use their discussion with each other AS the actual test response but one produced collaboratively

    • I would suggest giving a group grade,

    • grading each conversation wholistically,

    • and grading it at the END of discussion


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