Getting students to join in class discussions is difficult enough. It can be even more trying to encourage discussion online – outside of the actual classroom. That’s why e-learning usually lacks interaction, engagement and motivation. But this can be changed with some modifications and with the help of useful tools for online discussion board.
Similar to tools which are being employed in schools and actual classrooms to interact and collaborate on active learning efforts (projects, assignments, etc.), tools for online study offer a wide range of functionality, from whiteboards, chatting, editing collaborative documents, to full capabilities of Learning Management System, and even gaming!
Many of them are free, while others may cost users a small fee. Or they offer basic capabilities for free users, then add higher functionalities through paid options.
There’s always something here for anyone who’s looking for an ultimate discussion tool for their own online discussion boards. Here are a few top options elected by the majority of teachers.
WebEx is a free tool for video, multi-featured phones, and web conferencing. It’s suitable for students, faculties, and staffs due to its integrated chat function. Much similar to Google Hangouts, Adobe Connect, or Skype, users of WebEx can host and join in audio and video meetings, presentations, and conferences.
Via WebEx, the lecture slides can be shown on student devices and. In turn, students can communicate in real time with each other, their instructor and presenter by chatting. Here are WebEx’s capabilities:
- Connect with the user’s chosen device or call in via their tool-installed phone
- Record discussion audio and video (for later use, the download option is available)
- Facilitate an on-screen chat among e-students during a session
- Start instantly or schedule presentations in advance
- Share the user’s screen, webcam in real-time
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Though Turnitin is not a free app and comes with limited grades (3-12), its uses are well worth the paid rate. In addition to the common function as an efficient online plagiarism detector, Turnitin has other lesser-known tools, especially a built-in discussion platform. While such a discussion tool may not be Turnitin’s strong point, it does offer options regarding teacher-moderation and anonymous posting.
For years, lots of teachers and students use Facebook as a place to exchange and study from each other. Still quite a favored tool these years, though it is only for people over 13. If you open a group page dedicated to your class, you’ll get an online discussion board of your own to collaborate freely.
Old users may recognize it with the old name – StatPlanet Map Maker. This free software is awesome for customizing interactive maps. Additionally, this software offers the option of bringing in interactive diagrams to make feature-rich infographics.
A creative, authoring tool like Scratch helps users develop content – those that pass the barriers of conventional page-turners. Moreover, users of Scratch can create their own interactive animation, art, stories, music, etc. then share their works on the website.
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This is a digital storytelling tool for instructors. Teachers can create their own Domo adventures in a few minutes with the user-friendly animation studio. It’s free and rather easy to use. All you need is to import your images and a song/melody to go with the slideshow. The user’s chosen photos will be the protagonist of their own identified Domo adventure.
Even with its default capacity, Google Drive’s storage is large enough for the user to collaboratively edit or comfortably share Google Docs with anyone as long as they have a Google account. With the assistance of Google Drive, students and teachers are able to manage worksheets documents, interactive classroom projects, and activities collaboratively.
In an actual classroom, there’s a teaching strategy called “Graffiti Wall activity” to allow pupils to brainstorm their ideas, then write them on chart paper. And Padlet is Gravity Wall activity’s digital equivalent. Padlet is a virtual space where students can post their questions, thoughts, and ideas for discussion.
Just think of Padlet like a large sheet of paper and the students will fill in this virtual paper with images, connections, words, questions, quotes as per the teacher’s requirement. Then, learners will develop further discussion in pairs, groups, etc.
NowComment is a free platform for document, discussion, and annotation. It allows learners to mark, discuss the texts, and it is often used in grades K-12. Users only need to upload data in any form of formats to make an area for online discussion and leave the rest to NowComment. Text paragraphs will be numbered and logically arranged, as the document and comment panel will be placed on opposite sides. The instructor can decide students’ rights to upload their essays and comment on a text or their peers’ reviews.
Backchannel Chat is a payment-required tool for grades 7–12. The tool works well as an online discussion board. Its restrained online discussions are supposed to engage learners and urge them to share.
Setup is quite simple. Instructors just need to sign up, label their chat, then share the URL with their students. Every learner only needs one name to take part in the chat group, no need to provide any other personal information. Teachers can control the discussions, remove inappropriate messages, and even “lock” the chat group at any time.
Wiggio provides options like establishing meetings, calendars, to-do lists, polls, messaging, and file sharing. Conveniently, this is mostly a free workgroup tool. That’s because the primary functionality is totally free while a premium service – which best suits organizations seeking for priority support and a registered workspace, will be paid-required.
Chalkup is a free learning management system (LMS) for teacher – since school pricing varies, from grades 6-12. This is the first benefit. Another trait that makes this platform unique among the vast market of LMSes is that all of Chalkup’s features are framed specifically around collaboration and discussion.
In addition to discussions, the platform is great for grading and online assignments. Chalkup should be an ideal choice for any teacher who happens to be searching for an LMS for their class.
The Canvas Discussions tool is employed to host, organize and moderate an online threaded, written discussion with both posts and replies from each student. Class discussions can be limited to small groups or can be “open for anyone” for the whole course.
Canvas Discussions offers an integrated structure for class discussions, enabling both teachers and pupils to begin and contribute to the discussion topics as many times and information as they wish. Also, the tool allows two or a group of people to interactively communicate, so all users can take part in a conversation with the entire class.
Moreover, Canvas Discussions can be established within learner groups. Also, for teacher’s grading purposes, the tool can be built as an assignment as it can seamlessly integrate with the Canvas Gradebook. Otherwise, it can serve as a simple forum for current and topical occasions.
This online platform is free. And it’s suitable for students and teachers from grades 7–12 to boasts a various collection of cooperative learning features, including online discussions.
These kinds of “structured discussions” can take many different forms, from simple multiple-choice quizzes, polls, to open-chat forums and even options to “vote or suggest” according to other learners’ responses.
Other than that, this site could be a central online meeting place for the real-life classroom. So, teachers can post files, records, and other study-related information.
Eduflow is also a free learning experience platform to run online learning flows including discussions and other activities. They really focus on scaffolded online discussions. You can ask participants to answer specific questions, split them into discussion groups and require that they both post topics and comment before completing the activity. The power of Eduflow is that you can combine the discussion with other learning activities such as videos, peer reviews and submissions.
We’re so familiar with this world-famous chat tool developed by Microsoft. Skype offers group conferences tools that can be specifically effective for remote partakers to come together.
For instance, Skype can be a huge asset if you’re considering working together with a remote classroom. The tool is also helpful in connecting students, who might not be able to attend class for some unexpected reason, with the classroom to join the discussion or other activity.
Whether you choose to teach online completely or add some sessions of online discussion to a traditional class, online discussion boards are gradually becoming fundamental in college courses.
Thanks to the helpful tools we’ve shown you above, students and teachers both can become more interactive and engaging in online discussion boards. They can be a practical complement to face-to-face classes as well as a powerful foundation of online classes. In fact, many students even prefer online discussion to in-person discussion, most likely due to the chance to communicate more freely.