Improving the Asynchronous Online Learning Environment Using Discussion Boards

Discussion Boards are at the heart of an Asynchronous Online Learning or Distance Education Environment and can have a great impact on the learning experience. Understanding the individual factors that create a high quality discussion board experience for students and their interrelationships is critical to continuous improvement in distance education. Research which contributes to increased effectiveness of virtual Discussion Boards for both instructors and students can result in greater student involvement and success in learning new skills. This paper discusses Phase 1 and 2 of a multi phase applied research effort on improving the quality of virtual Discussion Boards. "Applied research is defined as systematic study to gain knowledge or understanding necessary to determine the means by which a recognized and specific need may be met" ("Research and development," 2010, para 4). The study was completed in two phases with additional phases to be developed as the data analysis continues to yield results. In Phase 1, a literature review was completed and qualitative data employing a focus group methodology was completed. The focus group was comprised of full time faculty from a large, proprietary, online university with significant experience in the use of Discussion Boards. The data was collected from the focus group and was analyzed to create hypotheses for additional research on the topic. Phase 2 focused on collecting data utilizing a quantitative research methodology supported by continued research of the literature on this topic. The results of the data analyzed during these phases will become the basis for additional studies on recommended best practices in discussion board participation as it applies to both the student and the instructor.
Discussion Board, Online Learning Virtual Classroom, Blooms Taxonomy, Asynchronous Online Learning, Distance Education
Ringler, I., Schubert, C., Friestad-Tate, J., Deem, J., Lockwood, R. & Flores, J. (2015, April-June). Improving the asynchronous online learning environment using discussion boards. Journal of Educational Technology, 12(1), 15-27.