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

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Tips for Planning Discussion Board Activities, Evaluating Postings, and Managing Discussion Boards

  • Students need to feel that the time invested in preparing responses is not wasted.

  • Posting to the board must feel like a worthwhile activity to the student.

  • Posting deadlines need to be provided.

  • Students should be encouraged to build relationships and continue common interests outside of the class.

  • Provide criteria for discussion postings in the discussion board grading rubric

    • Create discussion board activities that require students to reflect

    • Create discussion board activities that require students to list the pros and cons of a topic.

    • Provide examples of quality postings.

    • Ask students to post "My muddiest moments" or "Aha moments" in the course.

    • Tell students that if they can answer another student they should do so.

  • Netiquette

    • Students need to know what proper etiquette is for using the discussion board. The etiquette must be enforced so that students feel free to express their ideas.

    • Layout ground rules during the first class meeting

  • Instructor Presence

    • All students need to receive some feedback on postings either from peers, or the instructor.

    • Answer questions within 24 hours

    • Make your presence known on the board but don’t be overwhelming.

    • Wait for students to answer first

    • Always be there – even if you are not responding.

    • Send private email thanks for profound postings.

    • Let students know if you are going to be away from the computer for longer than 24 hours.

  • Guest Speaker

    • Guest speaker examples – Fill out a the form for adding non-enrolled users to your course, located under the faculty tab, at least 48 hours before the guest is supposed to appear in your course - http://www.mtsu.edu/d2lsupport.

    • Adding a guest speaker to your course will allow the guest speaker to appear on the discussion board with his/her actual name attached to the posting.

Anonymous Discussions

Why use Anonymous Discussions?

Originally posted on this site:

http://cccomaster6.blogspot.com/2010/03/why-use-anonymous-discussions.html , by Dan Branan, CCCOnline Master Teacher

  • They encourage honest questions about the material. Students hate to look stupid.

  • They encourage honest feedback. This worked two ways.

    • First, when students posted anonymous questions about assignments, other students could anonymously attempt to answer the question and help their fellow students.

    • Secondly, the instructor can receive honest (and sometimes brutal) feedback about the course itself and about the instruction.

  • They allow the instructor to play "student". Instructors can seed the field a little by posting a "student" question about material he/she knows students will have trouble understanding, if someone hasn't done it already. The instructor can then answer the question as themselves, signing the response posting.



  1. The Dropbox organizes user submissions – allowing the instructor to grade submissions online or download submissions for grading offline.

  2. One dropbox should be set up for each assignment. (Do not set up one dropbox for the course.)

  3. Multiple dropboxes can be set up for each assignment. (First draft – final submission) This is particularly important if you are using the TurnItIn tool to check for originality. If using the TurnItIn Tool the first draft should not be submitted to the paper database so it should be submitted to its own drop box.

  4. Several submissions for the same assignment can be submitted to the same drop box. If you are not using the TurnItIn tool at all or is you are not submitting the paper to the paper database but using TurnItIn to add comments to papers or if you are using the rubric tool to provide feedback.

  5. Dropboxes can be restricted by date and time, group, or other restrictions using Selective Release.

  6. Grading: Instructors can view submissions using the Dropbox Viewer and grade using attached rubrics or using the TurnItIn Tool (Comments feature). The TurnItIn Tool also creates originality reports.

  7. TurnItIn

    1. Students (and the instructor) can view and filter originality reports to ignore quoted material and the bibliography.

    2. The TurnItIn tool allows student work to be compared against a database of student work and other published resources.

    3. Instructors can choose to use this tool as a learning tool and allow students to see the plagiarism reports. Students can then resubmit their assignments with corrections.

    4. The TurnItIn tool allows instructors to create their own set of comments (or use the built in comments) and drag comments directly onto student assignment submissions.

    5. Care needs to be taken when reviewing the report and the instructor and student may need to discuss a report rather than taking it at its face value.

    6. TurnItIn notifies the instructor if a paper contains more than a certain percentage of quoted material. There are other notifications, too.


TurnItIn addess two features to your dropbox, an originality report and the ability to add comments/markup to student papers online from within the dropbox.

Setting Up TurnItIn for a Drop box.

  1. Click the Enable for this folder check box under the OriginalityCheck heading.

  2. Scroll down the page and click the Show Advanced Originality Checking Options link.

  3. If you want students to see the originality reports check the box. (Most often you will want them to see the report. Make other choices and then click Save and Close.
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