Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"I don't know how to use a discussion board"

At a meeting this afternoon an academic rep said that quite a few students, including herself, didn't know how to use a discussion board. Discussion boards on Blackboard probably are a less intuitive than others I have used but it was interesting to be reminded that students are not automatically familiar with these technologies. I know this shouldn't be a surprise to me. I've done Gilly Salmon's course on emoderation. I know that 5o out of the 61 people who responded to my surveymonkey questionaire last month had accessed a discussion forum once or never. But sometimes you forget.

Three students turned up to my last minute drop-in session and it was really good to see just three students for an hour and discuss their ideas with them. This is obviously so much richer than what I can achieve online with 300 students. But maybe I can try to translate the conversations we have had into my course blog so that the others can benefit in some way.

I asked the three students if they thought that accessing a discussion board was a problem and they didn't think it was. I know that in past years over 50% of students will access and post on the boards. I'm sure it will happen again. It is still about giving students chances and opportunities.

I also heard about a service to text message students with new information. It occurred to me that I could have sent a text to all the students to announce my drop-in session. But the three who attended told me that when the texts arrive they are prefaced with 'urgent' and can make them panic! They also questioned whether a lecture being cancelled a week in advance really was urgent. So would I.

Earlier I introduced another student to social bookmarking. I set up a Family Case Study account last night on delicious. It would be great to see lots of students signing up and networking.

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