I read with interest the article Making Online Discussion Boards Work for Skills-Based Courses, by Rob Kelly. As I am very interested in incorporating discussion boards and blogs in my mathematics classroom, I am eager to see what the voices of experience have to say.
Kelly explains how he has come to realize his initial approach to discussion boards was not the best way forward. By merely posing a problem, the first student would tackle the problem, and whether they were right or wrong, the other students would blindly follow.
According to Kelly, the best use of discussion boards is soliciting the opinion of the participants. Usually the topic does not pertain to the nuts and bolts of accounting, but the larger issues, such as which retirement plan is best (from a selection) and participants need to back up their opinions with facts.
Kelly also has two other strategies to ensure success. If necessary he breaks the class into smaller discussion groups so the threads do not get too unwieldy or repetitive. He also has a requirement that each student should make at least one post and one reply for each discussion.
I can see that this strategy could be very useful in mathematics. Students could the relative merits of various methods of solving problems, or discussing the connections between topics and indeed between subjects. The possibilities are endless! The only limit is my imagination.
Kelly, Rob. “Making Online Discussion Boards Work for Skills-Based Courses | Faculty Focus.” Effective Teaching Strategies for the College Classroom | Faculty Focus. Magna Publications, 11 Nov. 2010. Web. 16 May 2011. <http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/making-online-discussion-boards-work-for-skills-based-courses/>.