Cultivating Community in Asynchronous Online Learning Environments: Reimagining the Discussion Board




Morris, Kristine

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The COVID-19 pandemic forced the unprecedented use of online instruction in higher education programs. The loss of face-to-face support from peers and faculty increased student anxiety and was reported as a barrier to student motivation and learning. Faculty were challenged to reimagine how to provide support sufficient to keep students engaged and achieve learning outcomes. This task was particularly challenging in asynchronous courses where students worked in isolation on course assignments. In this presentation, I will describe the use of different levels of discussion boards in Canvas to create a social constructivist learning environment (SCLE) in asynchronous online courses. Social constructivism posits that knowledge develops as a result of social interaction and is, therefore, a shared rather than an individual experience. The role of the teacher in this framework is to provide a safe space where students collaborate to ask questions, make hypotheses, and test them. Contradictory ideas are challenged and discussed. Finally, students are given the opportunity to reflect on the data to promote deeper understanding. Students in courses using this design demonstrated a high level of engagement with peers, greater understanding of course content, and overall satisfaction with the course experience. Setup and management of this strategy in Canvas will be demonstrated.


2021 Teaching and Learning Symposium