Often discussion boards are the core of many modern courses, particularly those hosted online or with blended learning elements. Discussion boards offer a productive environment where students can communicate with one another 24/7 while sharing information and offering new insights that contribute to the learning process. However, these LMS discussion boards are riddled with limitations, student disengagement, and faculty frustrations. Left unaddressed, these problems fester and completely negate the effectiveness of a collaborative student environment.

Fortunately, collaborative learning systems exist to overcome these LMS shortfalls making course discussions engaging for students and easy to monitor for faculty.

Improving Your Students’ Comprehension

Discussion boards are functional for specific types of assignments requiring detailed reflection after a reading or lecture. For all other purposes, discussion boards become a cumbersome burden for both professors and students.

Collaborative learning systems, such as Omega Notes, capture the learner’s journey as it’s happening by integrating directly into course content and assignments. As students are learning, they have the ability to takes notes on their thoughts for their personal use or even share their notes with other students. When they’re ready, students can contribute to the course learning objectives by posing thought-provoking questions, commenting on their peer’s contributions, or by leaving detailed posts confirming that they understand the heart of the assignment or text.

Ease of Access and Student Engagement

An LMS does offer a convenient environment as discussion boards are an integrated part of a learning management system. Fortunately, this same type of integration is achieved through LTI or API integrations with a collaborative learning system. As a value add, collaborative learning systems also offer course content and robust analytics eliminating the need for additional technology silos and driving forward an essential element of interoperability.

Furthermore, individual collaboration contributions link directly back to the exact point of a text, assignment, or course module. This integration with content makes it easy for a student’s peer and professor to understand the exact context of a student’s note, question, or content submission.

Collaborative learning systems offer a significant upgrade over conventional LMS discussion boards for measuring and encouraging student comprehension and engagement. These systems offer tools to eliminate complexity while delivering content and collaboration in a medium that the digital native generation wants to use.

Saving Faculty and Students Time

The analytics available within most learning management systems are shallow at best. Collaborative learning systems, however, give professors the ability to dive quickly into key measurements covering who has and has not completed required readings, course assignments, or contributed to the course discussions. Detailed sentiment analysis gives professors an unprecedented level of comprehension and engagement measurements not achieved within discussion board metrics.

Collaborative learning systems mimic the engaging and intuitive nature of social media environments offering an easy place for students to manage and share their course contributions. This, combined with the content aggregation power of many collaborative learning systems, gives students one easy access point for course readings, assignments, study tools, and a central place to track conversations with their peers.

Implementing a collaborative learning system eliminates the need for faculty and students to shuffle between discussion boards, assignment objectives, required readings, and communication tools all while offering 24/7 convenience for students. Having everything you need in one intuitive environment leads to more genuine student engagement and a lighter workload for busy professors.

By Matthew Compton-Clark