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Discussion Board/Forum

A discussion board or forum is an online tool that facilitates asynchronous discussionIn contrast to a live chat, contributors don’t need to be logged in at the same time. Instead, participants post to a virtual “notice board” where their post remains visible for peers to read/respond to. 

Boards may be heavily moderated/teacher-led or student-led. Within a blended/online environment, they are often used to prepare for, or follow up on live classes. 

Typically used to…. 

….facilitate and assess  

  • communication skills 
  • discussion 
  • reflection 
  • debate 
  • critical analysis 
  • team working 
  • peer review

Key considerations when using discussion boards for assessment 

When contributing to discussion boards as part of an assessment, always refer to the guidelines and requirements provided by your lecturer, keeping the following points in mind:  

  • When using discussion boards as part of your assessment strategy, keep the following points in mind:
  • What is the purpose of the discussion board?
  • Is it the most appropriate way to assess student learning outcomes in this instance?
  • Are you intending to use discussion board contributions for formative or summative assessment purposes, or both?
  • What criteria will you use to assess student posts? For example, will you use quantitative criteria (e.g. number or length of posts) or qualitative criteria, or both?
  • Have you provided students with a rubric?
  • Does the rubric align with the relevant learning outcomes?
  • What role with you have on the discussion board? For example, will you be “present” as a moderating voice?
  • Will discussion board activity be student-led? How will you structure and manage the discussion board set up?
  • Will all boards be public (i.e. viewable by the entire class) or will you set some as private to particular groups of students? (The latter option works well as part of group work assignments). Remember that your students may not have posted to a discussion board before. Check what institutional supports and guides are provided for this and share with your students in advance.


Trinity-supported tools:  

External tools (unsupported by Trinity):  

Examples of discussion boards

Coming soon


10 Tips for Effective Online Discussions  

This article from Educause Review (2018) provides a list of recommendations to help ensure that online discussions are engaging and beneficial for higher education students.

Discussion Boards: Valuable? Overused? Discuss  

This article from Inside Higher Ed (2019) explores how discussion boards can be used to foster deeper understanding and more meaningful online learning experiences.

IALLT Webinar: Are discussion forums really interactive? Ideas for purposeful asynchronous communication  

This IALLT (International Association for Language Learning Technology) webinar outlines how discussion boards can be used to facilitate a different way of approaching asynchronous communication assignments, with the ultimate goal of helping students to develop communicative ability in a target language. Examples and ideas for novice, intermediate, and advanced learners are shared here as well as some tips to minimise cheating.

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