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Learning Technology - Practical Guide

Discussion Boards and Forums

Available resources to assist with students during their time at University.

Discussion boards and forums

Discussion Forums are often used for online discussions on a seminar topic throughout the week, or as a place to ask questions.

Some key terms to know:

  • Discussion Board: the main page where all the Forums are collected together. There's usually just one Board per module.
  • Discussion Forum: collects all the conversations about one topic - for example, there might be a different Forum for each week of a module.
  • Thread: a single conversation within a Forum. Each Forum can have many threads.
  • Post: replies within a Thread.
Take discussions online with Forums

Yorkshare VLE discussion boards and forums

Key terms

  • Discussion Board: the main page where all the Forums are collected together. There's usually just one Board per module.
  • Discussion Forum: collects all the conversations about one topic - for example, there might be a different Forum for each week of a module.
  • Thread: a single conversation within a Forum. Each Forum can have many threads.
  • Post: replies within a Thread.

Navigating and posting in a Forum

The basics of using a Discussion Forum [YouTube]

Quickly review all forum posts

You can review all recent discussion forum posts from all your module sites in a searchable stream.

  1. Open the Global navigation menu from the drop-down arrow next to your name in the top right of the VLE screen.
  2. Select the Posts button. This will open full-screen with all recent forum posts.
  3. You can select each one to preview and reply in this full-screen window.

Steps 1 and 2 of how to review all Forum posts.

Padlet

Padlet is digital paper, or a digital noticeboard. Add posts, upload photos or videos, move things around, reply to other students - there's so much you can do with a Padlet!

Your tutors might add Padlets to VLE module sites to organise course materials, as a place for discussion, or a way for you to get feedback on your work.

You can also create your own Padlets for mind-mapping, planning assignments, portfolios, group work and more.

Effective online discussion

Like in a face-to-face discussion, you should think critically about the topic and support your points well. Completing any pre-session tasks or readings will help you to make strong points that:

  • are relevant to the question.
  • give explanations, evidence, reasons, examples, implications, other factors or relevant information.
  • include (and cite) source information where appropriate.

Move the discussion on by responding to other students’ contributions. To do this, you need to include some new information or views in your response:

  • give extra evidence, examples, reasons, causes etc.
  • link to other viewpoints or findings (similar or different).
  • consider effects or implications.
  • ask questions about their point.

Example contributions

Here are some examples of discussion board contribution in response to the seminar question:

"How can schools support the wellbeing of children with dyslexia?"

Weak point

"A sympathetic school environment can support the wellbeing of all children, including those with dyslexia. If schools focus on celebrating each child’s strengths instead of highlighting difficulties, this helps children have a more positive self-image."

This is relevant to the question, and has some explanation about why the intervention might be effective. However, the explanation is limited, and no research has been cited - it needs more discussion and evidence.

Strong point

"One thing schools can do is provide literacy skills training for children with dyslexia. This could be beneficial because improvements in literacy ability might help reduce negative feelings about academic performance and build confidence (Arnold et al., 2004). However, literacy training might not be enough on its own to improve emotional difficulties such as low self-esteem or academic anxiety (Riddick, 2001), and singling children out might make them feel different and contribute to negative self-perceptions (Lovey, 1995)."

This is stronger; evidence from sources has been used to support the point and different possible effects have been considered (note: in a real discussion, you’ll probably want to include some more information).

Good response to other student

"I think your point about singling out children is important. If other children know that they have extra training or support, they might be stigmatised or bullied (Cooper, 2013), which would probably make them feel even worse."

This response to the strong point moves on the discussion by considering another possible negative effect of the training.