Types of Assignments - Discussions

What are they?  Some courses may utilize a Discussion Board Forum.  Discussion Boards allow for students to post individual thoughts and replies on a given topic for all classmates to see in order to help facilitate communication and understanding of a given topic.  Discussion Boards can also be used as a platform for Peer Review activities. 

UNM Learn provides one main Discussion Board access point that displays the list of individual forums as your instructor creates them. It generates what is known as a "Threaded" discussion--meaning that students and instructors can post to initiate new lines of thinking, or reply to posts as a way to comment and keep the conversation organized, as previously mentioned. 

NOTE: Individual forums can be set so that students must create an initial post before they can see anything posted by their classmates, so be sure to follow instructions provided to you by your instructor to successfully complete the activity.

Discussion Boards can be graded or non-graded.  Grading can also be separated with one score for individual posts and a separate score for providing one or multiple substantive comments.

Discussion Boards are very similar to another UNM Learn tool: Blogs.  A blog is like a mixture of a personal online journal and a discussion board.   They are frequently updated throughout the course and are intended to share with others (i.e. classmates), since they also have a commenting feature so that people can respond to one another's thoughts. They encourage students to clearly express their ideas and to explore various aspects of social learning.  Just in case your instructor uses the Blog tool, click here to see how to navigate them from within your course.

Lightbulb icon indicating a Pro Tip.PRO TIP: Successful participation in Discussion Boards

Discussion Boards are often used to generate ideas; build a sense of community; summarize main points in a text or reading; assess and confirm levels of skill and understanding; reexamine ideas presented in previous weeks; compare and contrast theories, issues, and interpretations; and brainstorm and reflect on applications of theory to life.

In order for a Discussion Board to work, you need to consider the importance of your individual participation, as well as the concept of your position as a facilitator of learning for your fellow classmates.  With this in mind, if you are asked to post and/or comment on another's post, try to always consider the importance of timing and enhancement of the general discussion. 

What does this mean?  If an instructor gives you access to a Discussion Board with a week to submit a post and comment on at least two other classmates' posts, for example, if all students wait until 5 minutes before the deadline to actually post and comment, this does not provide a successful environment or sufficient time for actually learning.  The sooner you post, the better!

In terms of the student's responsibility to enhance the discussion, please keep in mind that people will want to see more than a simple response of "good job" or "me too".  Rather, they will want you to add an additional thought or argument in support of your response that goes beyond the simple "I agree".  An example of this might be "I agree with your post because..." or "That is an interesting point, but have you thought about...".  Therefore, you are not only providing a simple response in agreement or disagreement, but you are also adding information to help the discussion continue or to bring to light new arguments for everyone to learn.


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