The most obviously interactive tool in My Studies is the discussion board. Each module area has one automatically, but it needs to be turned on. Getting students to engage with discussion boards is notoriously difficult, but you have several advantages:
- Students have already developed their social presence in face-to-face interactions and this can be drawn upon in the online environment.
- You are probably at the end of the module, when learning switches to application and deeper understanding, rather than discussion of ideas, which students find awkward to do online.
- Develop threads in the discussion boards around really engaging topics, such as how people are managing in the current situation, and assessment topics or revision.
- Use media such as video to create personal introductions to boards or threads to explain what students need to do and to set an encouraging tone.
- You can set tasks such as ‘respond to three different threads’ to get students warmed up to writing online
- Set existing groups to work on particular threads. As they already know each other they will work more effectively online.
Importantly, students’ engagement will be directly linked to your engagement, so set regular times to go online and visit in between to show you value this online community.
- Hints, tips and pointers around assessment will ensure students engage.
- Moving students back on track, returning to the question, and moving students to a point of conclusion to finish the task are key facilitation and directive skills
- Remember you can also check who has contributed to discussion boards and follow up with anyone you are concerned about.