Most LMSes have a “Discussion Forum” tool that you can add into any course unit, and even make it a graded assignment in the course. Many online educators will post a discussion prompt and let students respond below. Here’s a little trick to help spice up your discussion postings with a rich multimedia presentation that students can respond to instantly. Here’s how to do it in Canvas, but the process for each LMS is very similar.
You can use the provided Description field in your Discussion Forum to post a video lecture or other rich multimedia content for students to consume. Rather than just reading a text description of the discussion prompt in that space, students can watch a video or presentation and then respond in the discussion forum right below.
This creates a page design very similar to a blog post or YouTube video, where the comments section appears immediately below the content. This lets your readers/students instantly comment and ask questions in the same place that they consume your content. This can encourage students to actively respond to this new information, ask clarifying questions, or extend the conversation in new directions.
Embedding is Easy — Experiment with your Favorite Media Types
Any web content with an embed code will fit in the text field where you’d normally write an assignment description or instructions. Just flip from the WYSIWYG editor to the text/HTML editor and paste the embed code in the provided field, flip back, and see your rich content displayed at the top of the page!
Pedagogically, I see this as a great way to bridge the gap between consumption of course content and genuine interaction between students and instructors. Even if you do not grade this discussion forum, you may be surprised at the questions and reactions that surface in response to a piece of content. Of course, you may even incentivize students to help one another with points as a way of lessening your own “administrivia” workload and help build an online course culture.
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