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Information Technology

Discussion and Chat


What is a Discussion Board?

A Discussion Board is an online "forum" where users can post messages and respond to messages posted by other users. It is usually organized by topic and/or date. The Discussion Board tool in Blackboard is asynchronous, meaning that users can post messages at different times, and all messages will remain posted with a date and time stamp.

What are some common Discussion Board terms?
Frequently people use the term "post" to refer to a single message added to the forum.You might also see the term "threaded" discussion. A threaded discussion is simply a series of posts all related to the same topic and posted in response to a single post.

What is chat?

A chat session usually consists of several users logged into the same "room" or location where they can type text-based messages that are posted in real-time for all other users in that room to view. It is a synchronous communication tool, meaning that users are communicating with each other at the same time.

What educational advantages are there to using Discussion and Chat?

Discussion (Information obtained from Worcester Polytechnic Institute): 

  • Encourages critical thinking and analytical skills
  • Facilitates a sense of community
  • Helps students to collaborate on assignments and theoretical discussions
  • Improves written communication skills
  • Encourages participation by students who might be more inhibited in a face-to-face class
  • Reduces amount of time faculty spend answering redundant questions

Chat (Information obtained from Wichita State University):

  • Exposes students to different ideas and viewpoints
  • Helps to create a more authentic communication environment
  • Allows faculty to be more accessible to students
  • Useful for holding virtual office hours or answering questions from students
  • Logging functionality allows the chat to be recorded for those unable to attend
  • Fosters a more relaxed atmosphere for students to explore concepts and questions

What do Discussion and Chat not do well?

Discussion:

  • Can be overwhelming to the reader if not organized properly
  • Discussion can stray off-topic
  • May be time consuming to read lengthy posts

Chat:

  • If not moderated, discussion can get off topic
  • Must restrict the number of users in order to make conversation easier to follow
  • Side conversations can be distracting
  • Some may resist communicating more than a few sentences due to the time involved in typing vs. speaking in person

Blackboard Examples 

Example of a chat session:

 
BlackBoard Chat Screenshot

 

Example of a discussion board:

BlackBoard Chat / Discussion Screenshot 

Netiquette

Netiquette refers to proper ways of interacting online, particularly with respect to e-mail, discussion boards, and chat rooms. The following guidelines will help ensure that your online communication experience is a positive one for all involved:

  • Show respect for fellow users by avoiding interrupting and/or changing the subject abruptly
  • Do not use all CAPS on a regular basis. This is considered "shouting" in the online world
  • Don't attack or criticize another user in a public environment. This is called "flaming" and can be very hurtful. It is more suitable to send a private message to that person explaining why you are unhappy with them.
  • Try to stay on-topic. It is easy to stray away from the topic at-hand, but resist doing this so that others can follow the conversation easier.
  • Keep in mind that online communication is very different from face-to-face interaction, so misunderstandings are more common. Be patient with others in explaining your intentions.

How is chat different from the discussion board?

A chat session is a synchronous communication tool, meaning that users are communicating with each other at the same time. It involves several users "logged in" to the same area where they can type messages in real time. A discussion board, however, is asynchronous, meaning that users can post messages at different times, and all messages will remain posted with a date/time stamp. The Discussion Board is intended to be read by users at different times, whereas the chat tool is used by everyone all at the same time. It is more spontaneous and allows less time for thought before typing.

Using the Discussion Board Feature in Blackboard:
To get started using the discussion board feature in Blackboard, click on the Discussion Board Tutorial for Faculty.


Resources:

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