Template for Quality Discussion Boards

Writing discussion board prompts can be intimidating. Perhaps you’ve had negative experiences using them in your courses. Were students not engaged? Was there a lack of critical thinking? Were instructions unclear? 

Whether you are writing a discussion board for the first time or revising a discussion board that needs a refresh, use the template below to help set you and your students up for success.

Discussion Elements

Below are prompts and examples of different discussion board elements to include in your online course discussions. These elements help explain expectations to students clearly so that students can focus on the discussion and the learning! 

Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives help students recognize and understand the purpose of the resources they are asked to review and the assessment or activity they are meant to complete. Indicate the module learning objective aligned with your discussion board to help students better understand “what’s in it for them.”

Example

Upon the completion of the discussion board the student will be able to: 

  • Define “technology ecosystem.” 
  • Discuss learning technologies and practices best aligned for a mobile/social learning project.

Template

Upon the completion of the discussion board the student will be able to: 

  • MO 1
  • MO 2
  • MO 3

Discussion Resources

Discussion resources provide links and additional instructions for students about any resources they will need to review in order to be successful during the discussion. You can also reference back to materials previously introduced in that week or module.

Example

In order to successfully complete this discussion you will need to review the following weekly resources: 

  • Read chapters 1-3 of our OER textbook, Teaching in a Digital Age
  • Review the Technology Ecosystem lecture provided in Module 2.

Template

In order to successfully complete this discussion you will need to review the following weekly resources: 

  • Resource 1
  • Resource 2
  • Resource 3

Discussion Description

In this section of the discussion, introduce the type of discussion students will complete and explain how the discussion will be assessed.

Example

To help build our learning community, all students in the course will participate in this discussion. In order to better understand how you will be evaluated as an individual participant, please review the attached discussion rubric. You must complete all facets of this discussion in order to receive a passing grade. 

Template

Discussion Type:

  • Small group
  • Course wide
  • Fish bowl 


Assessment Type:

  • Rubric
  • Complete/Incomplete
  • Ungraded

Discussion Instructions

Now that students understand the purpose and format of the discussion and are prepared to be successful when completing it, it is time to present them with clear and concise instructions. 

Example

In this discussion, we will work together as a team to build a collective research resource, also known as an “Annotated Bibliography.” Using what you’ve learned from our required resources, you’ll need to identify at least three research articles that fall within the definition of “technology ecosystem.” Topics may include: andragogy, decision trees, data modeling workplace learning, instructional design, and many others. 

Once you have identified your articles, it’s time to start your post. In one initial post to this discussion, you will share the APA formatted citation and the abstract for each of the three articles you have identified. Then, in  1-2 paragraphs explain why you think these articles are relevant to our shared bibliography in the context of the tech ecosystem. 

Review a few of the posts from others in the course. Identify at least one post that is connected to your own research. In response to that post, explain why you believe this research article may be important to education and learning professionals. Then, share an additional piece of research with an opposing view to the view shared by your peer. 

Template

  • Explain the background work students will need to complete the discussion (readings, research, practice, labs, etc.).
  • Explain the content and context of their initial post to the discussion. 
    • What are they doing?
    • What are they debating?
    • What are they answering? 
    • What are they sharing
  • Explain the content and context of their response post(s) to peers.
    • What are they doing?
    • What are they debating?
    • What are they answering
    • What are they sharing
  • Explain how students should respond again to their peers (if needed).

Due Dates and Other Policies

Discussions require a lot of interactions and may require students to complete multiple posts in order to keep engagement up. Clearly explain the expectations to students so that no one misses a prompt or a post! 

Example

  • Submit your initial post to this discussion forum by 23:59 CST Wednesday of Week 4.
  • Submit your inital responses to peers that advance knowledge and understanding by 23:39 CST Friday of Week 4.
  • Post final responses and wrap-up conversations by 23:39 CST Sunday of Week 4. 

Template

  • Submit your initial post to this discussion form by [TIME] [Time Zone] [DAY] of [WEEK].
  • Submit your initial responses to peers on this discussion form by [TIME] [Time Zone] [DAY] of [WEEK].
  • Post final responses to peers and end conversations on this discussion form by [TIME] [Time Zone] [DAY] of [WEEK].

If there are additional policies that are relevant to your course, program, or university that you should include on your discussions, we recommend linking to those policies in your syllabus or in your course in order to keep instructions clear and concise.