Discussion boards creating community – Suzanne Baker, Education

In the spring, I team-taught a Denison Seminar course, STEM Ed, Democracy and Poverty in South Africa with Dr. Sarah Wolff from the Mathematics Department. To engage students in the reading and build community, we expanded on our discussion boards. We organized students in groups of five or six – their discussion pod – using NoteBowl. After reading the selected material, students would post two thoughts and a question about the reading to their discussion pod board. Each pod member commented on two different posts in a 24-hour period. We chose not to insert our own comments (through feedback) until the discussion was completed and were pleased by the rich discussion that ensued. We saw the students’ bond grow even stronger as they supported each other during the challenges of the spring.

 Looking to the fall, I will continue to use this format in my Education courses, especially on days I do not see students face to face in the classroom. As a low-stakes evaluation, I am considering several rubrics that can be used to effectively evaluate the students’ contributions. In addition to written discussion boards, I will incorporate audio and video discussion where students submit a 2-3minute response to a given prompt. Pod members will post comments on two of these entries.

Suzanne Baker
Instructor/Teacher Education Program Associate 
Educational Studies