My colleague and friend, Christy Tucker, posted earlier this week about e-learning courses that use Discussion Boards as a dumping ground for uninspired responses to mediocre questions. These types of assignments don’t encourage peer feedback as they were meant to do. She has a point. And, I have to admit, I’m guilty of some of this as well.

So, here is my response to her thought provoking questions about this topic:

Is that not the job of the ID, then, to make sure that discussion boards are used for just that purpose? Discussion?

It can be very easy to fall into the “oh just put it in the Discussion Board” mentality. Which, of course, gives you the gallery of mediocrity rather than the interesting and thought provoking place it was meant to be.

What, then, are the qualifications of a good discussion? How can we, as IDs, balance the “what did you learn” (which has its place) with the “how can it be applied” assignments and discussions? At what point should peer feedback be the main deciding factor? Or should it?

Using peer feedback is a great tool. But that’s what it is..a tool. We cannot rely on using peer feedback as the main or, in some cases, only way to start or maintain a conversation. We need to be able to design the assignments so that they themselves spark interest/controversy/discussion.