Do threaded discussions in online classes have any academic value?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by SurfDoctor, Sep 12, 2010.


How much academic value does the typical threaded discussion offer in an online class

Poll closed Nov 11, 2010.
  1. Highly valuable. Threaded discussions are an intergal part of a good online class.

    5 vote(s)
  2. Fairly valuable. Most of the time, they add value to a class.

    6 vote(s)
  3. Sometimes valuable, sometimes not. It depends on the students, instructor and questions.

    20 vote(s)
  4. Rarely valuable. Most of the time, threaded discussions are of little benefit.

    14 vote(s)
  5. An absolute waste of time.

    11 vote(s)
  1. Traditional B&M courses have a variety of instructors as well. That's why there's web sites out there that rate professors.
  2. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    Agreed. Sometimes it's not the professor's fault. Some of the online schools load them up with many classes, or pay so little that the professors must teach many classes to get by financially. Sometimes I get the impression that they are zipping through the discussions because they have many, many more they have to get through.
  3. PatsGirl1

    PatsGirl1 New Member

    Yep, just had this happen, and I also got called the wrong name in a response (which was verbatim from the one he posted to the student with the name he called me)... I was like Um...WTF? But *sigh* he isn't an easy grader.

    He NAILS you on APA format and doesn't seem to care about substance. Since I'm far from an APA guru, I get like 93%, 95% on assignments. Still A's but low enough to bother me.
  4. workingmom

    workingmom New Member

    I'd think we were in the same class, but then I looked at your sig and see that's not possible :)
  5. eilla05

    eilla05 New Member

    :) I think we know how I voted and my opinion has not changed! My current classes have my instructors not even responding at all to anyone's discussion posts... and this is a communications class and we still get nothing!
  6. cravenco

    cravenco New Member

  7. Autodidactic

    Autodidactic New Member

    Had good discussions in all my classes so far.

    The four astronomy classes I've taken from Swinburne (to complete my graduate certificate) all had a threaded discussion (Blackboard) requirement as part of the grade.

    Each class is about 12 weeks long, and within each fortnight of the class, every student is required to post a question about that fortnight's subject matter, and required to post an answer to another student's question. (And the answer typically includes citations.)

    Plus, the instructors post questions for discussion, and (usually after waiting a bit for students to reply to each other's questions) will post replies to student questions clarifying things, adding info, etc. Students also have to submit what they think their "best post" out of each 4-week period was.

    The only time I got in trouble was in a class that related quite a lot to my work, where the instructor had to tell me to not post ten things every fortnight! :rolleyes:

    So... I think my experience would be a good example of how things can be done properly. I should add that Swinburne's astro program also has some non-class-specific discussion boards for talking about new developments in the field, announcements from the department, and all that.
  8. Esraa Shabaan

    Esraa Shabaan New Member


    Threaded discussions are an essential component of online classes*, and often the threaded discussions are considered “the classroom,” in the sense that they are the area where interaction about material happens
  9. Esraa Shabaan

    Esraa Shabaan New Member

    Threaded discussions are an essential component of online classes*, and often the threaded discussions are considered “the classroom,” in the sense that they are the area where interaction about material happens
  10. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    They can be...IF they are done well. IF the discussion question or scenario is engaging and inspires discussion and IF the instructor facilitates the discussion, rather than issuing the standard (poor) instructions "read all posts and respond to two" and not participating at all.
  11. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    I think they certainly have their usefulness. At the very least, they can make it publicly obvious which students belong and can grasp the material and which ones really don't/can't. But in terms of academic value, I got very little from it myself. I get the impression that at the graduate level there are probably some pretty useful interactions going on, but the schools I've dealt with didn't have online discussion at that level.
  12. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    Unfortunately, in most online classes I have attended, what you described as "read all posts and respond to two and not participating at all" is the SOP for many instructors. Even at Liberty, which is a great school that I totally love, the instructors rarely are participating in the discussion boards.
  13. sandraeli

    sandraeli New Member

    I am disappointed in my first online course with discussion forums. I wanted to take Guided Study, but no sections were offered. So far (four weeks into a twelve-week term) I've spent more time trying to figure out what's expected than actually learning the material.

    Students are posting brief reports, complete with citations, as their initial posts. It's like hearing book reports on the same book from every student in the class. The instructor's participation is mostly coaching students about expectations (more detailed, number of replies, etc.), and I have already decided to get through the course with the A and then go back to learn the material later. Never again.
  14. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    Which online school are you attending?
  15. sandraeli

    sandraeli New Member

    Thomas Edison State College.

    Part of my frustration is with the Blackboard platform making it more complicated than it probably needs to be--the discussion forum part would be more quickly readable if it were like Degree Info, scrolling through posts, rather than clicking a separate link to read each post in the thread.
  16. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    Ah, yes, but that's a good school, so I wouldn't worry too much. When I transferred to Liberty U a couple years ago, I had to get used to BlackBoard and I hated it at first too. I have found that I have gotten used to the way it is laid out and the way it works and now I'm fine with it. I still don't like the way they implemented the discussion board, like you said, but you learn how to work around the inconvenient design. If I can be of any help, let me know.
  17. Bibliophile83

    Bibliophile83 New Member

    I got an Associate's degree from IADT Online, and the discussion boards were a joke - and the instructors knew it. Everyone (including myself) posted to meet requirements instead of creating interesting dialogue, mostly because the discussion questions were so elementary and pointless. :(
  18. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    I think the fact that everyone just posts to meet the requirement is the reason that discussion boards are often of little value. I know that I am just as guilty as anyone else. I find out what it takes to get full points, or almost full points, and then I do that without really becoming engaged. I scan the student posts and find something I can make an educated comment on that will meet the requirement without ever actually reading the post. If class discussion boards were of more benefit, I would put forth more effort...on the other hand, if I put forth more effort, they might be of more benefit, I suppose.
  19. sandraeli

    sandraeli New Member

    Thanks, SurfDoctor, I appreciate your offer.

    "If class discussion boards were of more benefit, I would put forth more effort...on the other hand, if I put forth more effort, they might be of more benefit, I suppose." This gave me a chuckle.
  20. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    What is IADT?

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