Ways to Use a Discussion Board

July 18, 2022

Ways to use a discussion board

Online community building

Discussion boards are a great way to build a sense of community in an online classroom. Learners learn in a number of ways but one of the most impactful is from social interaction. Read on to learn more about how to provide this space for community in various ways.

  • Introductions

    • Provide an introductions board for yourself and for your learners. You should start it by posting a brief video of yourself introducing who you are, your professional expertise, and your personal interests. Have your learners follow suit! If your learners are graduate students or are working professionals, then it would make sense for them to share their professional background or expertise. If your learners are undergraduates, then consider asking them to discuss their field of study or academic interests.
    • This can provide connection opportunities and allows your learners to put a name to face for their peers. Be sure to require that they reply to at least two other classmates’ introduction videos with a message.
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    • Provide a discussion board for FAQs related to the course. You can provide a list of questions that you know learners often have and preemptively address them. Additionally, direct learners to post questions related to the course that would be beneficial for all participants to see and know about if their question is not already answered in the initial FAQ list. Be sure to direct learners to check the board before sending you an email.
    • This can help learners practice active learning by seeking out the answer to their question, which is also an exercise in developing agency.


Of course, discussion boards can also be used as assessments and they are quite useful for examining a learner’s explanation of a topic. Below are two options for using discussion boards as an assessment.

  • Topic explanation

    • If you want a thorough explanation of a topic, be sure to include a rubric that denotes what scores correlate to what kind of responses. Explicitly outline other expectations that support a thorough explanation of a given topic, such as:
      • Citing evidence from the course to support the explanation of the topic.
      • Connecting that explanation to either other content in the course or to the learner’s lived experience.
      • Word count or required length.
      • Connecting that explanation to how learners might apply the topic to a future assignment or to professional work.
  • Sharing researched information

    • Lastly, discussion board assessments do not just have to be about explaining a topic. Instead, have your learners go out and find resources related to the course topic to share and add their analysis of that resource. Discussion boards can be used as an information database wherein learners can still have discussions about the topics. For example, learners could be required to share:
    • Videos or images that demonstrate a topic from the course.
      • Author’s note: I had my intro to psychology students find an interesting example of an optical illusion when we covered how depth perception and color theory. They worked in groups and posted their video/image to a discussion board, then we voted anonymously in a bracket-style tournament for the ones we thought best exemplified the principles in the chapter.
    • Readings from reputable sources such as academic journals, news sites, organizations’ webpages, etc.


Special Kaltura Training

If you missed out on our special Kaltura Training series and you would like to attend live virtual training on everything you need to get started with Kaltura, please see the schedule and links below. If you would like to watch the previously recorded May Kaltura training, then please visit our Kaltura training playlist.

Quick Hits: Grouping Canvas Assignments

Assignment groups can be a great way to   weight the grades in your courses. Join us as we explain and demonstrate how to group assignments in Canvas. We will also discuss how to provide online testing accommodations for different learning styles. Facilitated by Axel Ruiz and Gray Jackson, Learning Technology Specialists.

Originally recorded 07.14.22

Watch the recording here.

Upcoming Events


Workshop Wednesday: Easy HTML for Canvas Design Obstacles – A meaningfully organized and formatted course is foundational to successful online teaching. Canvas Pages offer some means to help with formatting your course content, but some design obstacles can persistently remain in the way of formatting the way that you wish. In this Workshop Wednesday, you will learn easy HTML codes, how to insert them, and what they do to help you overcome five design obstacles. This workshop is for anyone using Canvas to teach content of any kind and who is comfortable with basic Canvas Page editing. Facilitated by Laura Scott, Instructional Designer.

Quick Hits: Canvas Quizzes and Academic Integrity – Are you interested in learning how to secure your online tests and quizzes? Join us for a quick look at tools to help you ensure academic integrity in your classes.  This training will provide a quick explanation and demonstration of the importance and how-to of securing your online assessments.

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