I’ve long been an advocate of class discussion boards. But, I think, now, they are passé. It’s time to let go.
When I was a student in the 1970s – 80s, if the teacher showed us an educational video in class, we thought it was fantastic; an exciting blend of education and entertainment!
Fast-forward to 2011. Any video longer than YouTube-clip-length played in class will fail to hold the attention of many students. The video might still be educational, but it just can’t be entertaining any more. Like it or not, students’ expectations have risen regarding what makes compelling viewing. It’s pretty hard for an educational video, even a good one, to compete in the entertainment space with mind-blowing CG movies like ‘Avatar’ or bizarre amateur videos on YouTube!
I think we are seeing a similar thing happen with discussion boards. When I first introduced a discussion board to my class in 2004 students thought it was fantastic! The idea that you could go online (via dial-up modem) to ask a question, or read posts by classmates any time of day or night … that was cool! It’s not perceived that way any more. How could the pedestrian, text-based discussion boards offered within most Learning Management Systems (including the Ultranet), possibly compete with the vibrant, media-rich experience of modern social networks? Like it or not, students’ expectations about what comprises compelling online interaction have risen.
That’s not to say that the LMS is dead or that there is no value in the Ultranet – these platforms offer a range of other useful features but so far as an online discussion forum is concerned, a Facebook Group is now the desire path to pave.