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Supporting Student Interaction with Discussion Boards and VoiceThread

Judith Aponte (Nursing)

Students in Dr. Judith Aponte's nursing classes engage in discussions about health issues and work together on final group projects. Professor Aponte was interested in how she could use technology to extend small group discussion outside the confines of the classroom and to develop new ways for students to share their project presentations with the rest of the class.

In Nursing 384 (Nursing Culturally Diverse Families) and Nursing 483 (Politics of Health), Professor Aponte's students used Blackboard groups and discussion boards for online discussion.  She divided her classes into groups of 5 - 6 students, each with its own discussion board.  Students used these boards to engage in conversation about case studies and scenarios.  Group leaders summarized the discussions and posted the summaries to a second, class-wide discussion board.

Students in both classes also work on group PowerPoint presentations.  Professor Aponte wanted her students to be able to add audio to their presentations and share them with the entire class.  For her summer Nursing 384 class, Professor Aponte asked students to post their PowerPoint presentations  to the class-wide discussion board on Blackboard.  Each group supplemented the visual PowerPoint presentation with an audio portion, using the Wimba Podcaster tool in Blackboard.  Professor Aponte and the students used email and the class-wide discussion to provide feedback to the student groups.  This process had limitations: although students were able to hear the audio podcasts and view the PowerPoint slides, the two portions of the presentation were separate. 

To address these limitations, Professor Aponte tried a different approach in her fall Nursing 483 class.  Students imported their PowerPoint presentations into VoiceThread, an online tool that allows students to record audio comments that are integrated with each slide.  Professor Aponte embedded the VoiceThreads into a Blackboard wiki and shared them with the entire class.  The wiki is used by all students in the class to view other group presentations, ask questions, and provide feedback.  Professor Aponte also uses the wiki to provide general feedback on the group presentations.  This approach enables the class to integrate PowerPoint slides, audio, and feedback.