Cultivate Community with In-video Discussion Commenting Boards

tl;dr: Add discussion forums to interactive video assignments to encourage interaction amongst learners, building a sense of community and engagement that increases retention.

Invitation Vectors by Vecteezy
Creating a sense of community for online learners has been an obstacle that universities have been trying to overcome for years. Research by Sadera and associates1 is not unique in identifying the negative impacts that a sense of isolation can have on a non-traditional learner's longterm success.

Nearly universally, learners express a desire to connect with others and experience the benefits that peers attending more traditional courses on campus benefit from every day. While this is an element that is deemed foundational to learner success in the Community of Inquiry2 framework, it can be a difficult challenge to overcome when online learners rarely, if ever, cross paths and the traditional discussion forum is dull and easily forgotten.

The Question
How can universities offering online learning options build a sense of community to encourage continued learner engagement, success, and retention?

The Solution

The benefits of interactive video have the potential to reach far beyond engaging the learner with the content that is in the video. Instructors using PlayPosit can add a "discussion forum" interaction to any bulb (our word for interactive video) and dictate its behavior to require class participation via time-stamped comments, function as a tagged time question board, allow for peer-to-peer learning opportunities and more.

PlayPosit's dynamic discussion forums are more than just an on/off option or a way for learners to see how others in their course responded to a particular prompt. With the discussion being built right into the content, individuals can reply to existing posts and contribute to a comment made by one of their peers through text or video (if enabled by the instructor). When engaging in the discussion, learners are challenged to reflect and respond in the moment, like in a traditional classroom discussion. The time-stamp on each post allows others to understand which section of the video is being referenced and respond accordingly.

The video pauses while the learner answers, allowing them to focus
on the task at hand and not miss the video's content.

The ability to challenge, support, or contribute to a classmate's idea while actively engaging with the content helps to establish a relationship with others that goes beyond the necessity of completing an assignment. The other learners are no longer just faceless people that happen to be taking the same course and writing a paragraph between other activities just to get points for participation. Instead, a learner is exposed to a better sense of the individuals who are sharing their feelings and informed opinions.

Discussion forums built using PlayPosit give learners the ability to feel challenged and learn from their peers in ways that are common in traditional in-person courses but severely lacking in the traditional online environment. Longterm, learners who feel that they are not alone in the challenges and successes that are a normal part of taking any course are more likely to strive for success and find fulfillment in the content and purpose of the course.

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  1. Sadera, William & Robertson, Jimmy & Song, Liyan & Midon, Nichelle. (2009). The Role of Community in Online Learning Success. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. 5. 277-284. 
  2. Garrison, D. & Akyol, Zehra. (2013). The Community of Inquiry Theoretical Framework. Handbook of Distance Education. 104-119. 
  3. Click here to read our knowledge base article on using discussion forums in PlayPosit.
  4. Click here to learn how to build a bulb in PlayPosit 3.0.