Discussion Board, Dropbox, and Group, Email, and Calendar Tools

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Discussion Board, Dropbox, and Group, Email, and Calendar Tools

Discussion Board, Dropbox, and Group, Email, and Calendar Tools


Participants will learn to create discussion boards and dropboxes that are open to all students in a course. Participants will use the Group Tool to set up discussion boards, dropboxes, quizzes, etc. that are restricted to groups of students. These restrictions can be used to create spaces for students to communicate and hand in assignments for group projects. Group restrictions can also be used to create discussion boards for private journaling or reflective activities, or to choose paper or project topics. Participants will also learn to use Group restrictions restrict access to other tools and content in D2L besides discussion boards and dropboxes. Email and Calendar: Participants will learn to set up their D2L mail accounts so that they can tell if students have read their messages and learn how to coordinate their D2L Calendar with Outlook on their desktop PC.

Discussion Boards

  • Discussion boards are the tool you will use the most to develop community in your course.

  • Individual discussion boards that are open to all course participants can be set up to allow students to introduce themselves to one another, to post general course questions, and to post technical questions but of course, their main value will be curricular.

  • Discussion boards can be restricted to groups of students for discussion purposes or to enable synchronous private communication concerning group projects.

  • Discussion boards can also restricted to one person and the instructor allowing for easy access to journals and private reflection.

Curricular examples of Discussion Board Use:

  • Clarification of reading: Asking students to post a question about the current chapter reading — possibly their muddiest moment. Students could be encouraged to respond to each other. You will respond when you see that clarification needs to be made.

  • Respond to question or analyze scenario: Asking students to post their own unique answer or analysis of a question or scenario that you present in the description area of the Topic (discussion board)

  • Student Responses: Asking students to respond to each other’s posts. Responses should be more than “I agree” or “I disagree”.

  • Peer Review: Ask students to post and review each other’s work.

  • Private Discussion Boards/Journals: Not having students respond to each other’s posts but instead set up a private, restricted discussion boards for each student and use this private discussion board to respond to each student privately. Students could post original responses in the private discussion board first and then, after you have interacted with each student, the revised responses could be posted to the general discussion board.

Creating Discussion Boards

Discussion boards are made up of two components, Forums and Topics. Forums function like categories. A course could have as few as one forum. The name of that forum could be “Course Discussions”. Topics are the actual discussion boards. Faculty sometimes confuse the two terms and create forums (categories) instead of Topics (discussion boards).

A new option in Discussions now allows instructors to force students to post their opinion first before reading others’ posts. This encourages original thought without influence from other student messages. With this option, students can access a topic, but on first access will only be able to post a new message before being able to read and reply to other messages posted to the topic by other students.

Grading Discussion Boards

Instructors can filter student responses by specific student either through the discussion tool or through the gradebook tool. If the instructor is also using rubrics to evaluate student work he/she should grade discussions from the gradebook column.

To Grade Student Discussion Postings from the Discussion Board

  1. Click the dropdown arrow and choose Assess topic.

  2. Choose the Assessments tab and click the student's name.

  3. Record the score and feedback you wish to give.

  4. Save and Close.
    Note: Before you chose Save and Close, you could have checked the box beside Publish to release this grade to the individual student. However, in this new version of D2L, there are three new buttons on the discussion board assessment page. After grading all Discussions for a particular topic, you can use the "Publish All Scores to Grades" button to publish all student scores at once, the "Retract All Scores" button to remove all student scores from the gradebook at once, or the "Manage Columns" button to add or remove columns that display on the assessment page.

To Grade Student Discussion Postings from the Gradebook

  1. Make sure the colored thought bubbles are displaying next to the student names in the discussion board grade column you wish to grade. If you don’t see thought bubbles make sure that the grade column is connected to the discussion board and also make sure that you have not set the discussion category to drop the lowest grade.

  2. Grading using a rubric vs. not using a rubric

    1. If you are not using a rubric to grade the discussion board you can click the thought bubble to read discussion postings filtered by student.

    2. If you ARE using a rubric choose GRADE ALL from the grade column dropdown menu to grade the student. This will allow you to open the rubric and select student ratings on the rubric and then record the grade in the grades point field.

Note: When using rubrics to grade discussion board postings tie the rubric to the gradebook tool. If you tied the rubric to the discussion board students will not see your feedback.

Discussion Board Statistics

  1. Go to the discussion board and display the statistics for that board to locate stats for recording student participating points. You will be able to see:

    1. The number of original postings (threads) authored by that student.

    2. The number of times a student replied to another student’s postings.

    3. The number of posts a student has read.

Grading Restricted Discussion Groups

When setting up your grade book to allow you to grade restricted groups without penalizing students for not being in all groups you will need to do one of the following.

  1. Set up a category to hold grade columns for all discussion boards in each forum separately – drop the lowest # of grades that equals the number of columns students will not have a grade in. Note: Only drop the grades after you have graded all student work.

  2. You may use categories if you choose. I suggest using them because they help to keep your gradebook organized. Instead of dropping the lowest # of grades in the category that equals the number of columns that the students will not have a grade, go into your grade settings and set it to Drop ungraded items. Note: You will need to make sure that you put zeros in columns for which students did not hand in work so that their zero will be counted. If you don’t the assignment will not count against them.

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