How to do Discussion Boards According to Students

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Brief Abstract

Tired of the same old, same old discussion board assignment? This session will rethink the traditional structure of online discussion boards and demonstrate the learning potential of online discussions. Using student voices, this session explores innovative approaches to discussion boards.


Dr. Bethany Schultz serves as the Director of the Center for Instructional Design and Technology at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho. She is an experienced grant administrator and educator in blended and online learning in Higher Education and K-12 settings. She has helped build an online general education experience for students at NNU through the development of NNU Online. Previously at NNU, she served as a project manager for a grant-funded center for innovation called the Doceō Center. Overall, Bethany has secured and been a post-award grant administrator of $15 million of projects and initiatives to spur innovation in higher ed and K-12 education through the effective use of technology.
Crystal Nielsen, M.A., is an Instructional Designer & Technologist at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho. With strengths in accessible design and website usability, she has collaborated with faculty at NNU (and formerly at Boise State) to design, develop, and deliver online courses in a wide range of subjects, including statistics, mathematics, oceanography, astronomy, literature, communication, psychology, music, nursing, and project management. In higher education since 2004, Crystal has provided training, technical support, and instructional design services with three learning management systems: Blackboard, ANGEL, and Canvas.
Dr. Christa Sandidge is the Director of the Center for Professional Development at Northwest Nazarene University (NNU); in addition, she is an Assistant Professor in the area of Leadership and Professional Studies. Christa holds a B.A. in Elementary Education, a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, and an Ed.D in Leadership and Professional Practice. Her primary areas of focus and expertise include online teaching, online course development, leadership development, and team development. She is strongly committed to improving leaders, teams, and teachers through professional and leadership development.

Extended Abstract

The intent of this session is to rethink the traditional structure of online discussion boards and demonstrate the learning potential of online discussions. Discussion boards have become the bread and butter of online instruction in an attempt to replicate in-class discussions. Despite using best practices, being flexible in structure and formatting, and eliminating them altogether, one institution was craving the same interaction and depth as face-to-face course discussions. After a series of student interviews on traditional undergraduate student experiences with remote learning due to COVID-19 closures, the presenters came up with alternative ways to format online discussions that make the experience more authentic to its in-person counterpart. This session explores the current best practices for online discussions, student voices about discussions, and explores new ways of approaching discussion boards. Participants will be exposed to innovative approaches to online discussions and come away with a redesigned discussion assignment.