It’s all talk….. discussion forums as assessment

Image courtesy of Broadway Baby www.broadwaybaby.comThe popularity of discussion forums as a form of assessment at Macquarie has jumped significantly since the introduction of iLearn in 2012.  In 2013 discussion forums appeared in 99.1% iLearn units (either assessed or non-assessed), according to the iLearn Evaluation Report 2013 , A/Prof Maree Gosper, Helen Carter, Cathy Rytmeister, Elaine Huber, March 2014, Macquarie University.

So what’s all of the fuss about discussion forums?
Building on the educational theory of constructivism, students have the opportunity to  construct their own knowledge and understanding while exploring and testing these ideas with their peers.   This type student centred assessment also allows students to create connections and build a community of enquiry, both of which are essential components to a successful online learning experience.

But how do you assess discussion forums?
A solid rubric allows for not only markers but students to have a clear understanding of the expectations and standards of achievement, which should align with the mapped learning outcomes.   The LTC has a great resource to support academics in assessing discussion forums or you can always make an appointment with your Faculty’s Academic Developer.

How do you assess these in iLearn?
There are a few ways that you can assess discussion forums, from asking students to submit a reflection on their posts and peer feedback to students submitting their top three posts or simply using the rating function in the settings of the forum, which would automatically feed into your iLearn Gradebook.  But how do you view a student’s posts?  The secret of best way to look back on forum posts from a particular student is located in this quick guide.

There you have it, shooting the breeze as assessment!  Even if you haven’t used discussion forums as an assessable task in your unit, you may consider it for future offerings.  As always, your Faculty’s Educational Designer is always available to discuss your ideas or seek help in using iLearn.