Background 

Each year a subset of UQ courses have chosen to use a third-party discussion board rather than Blackboard's entry level board. Advanced discussion boards offer additional  features such as anonymous posting, LaTex formatting, ability to insert code snippets, and management of duplicate questions.  Initial consultations with users suggest a need for a centrally supported advanced board that would protect UQ data, be from advertising, allow provision of training and support by the eLearning team and a level of standardisation across courses for students.   

How can you access the Ed discussion board? 

The Ed discussion board can be accessed from inside Blackboard. Refer to the online guide.

How was this project initiated? 

The Digital Learning Sub-committee (DLSC) requested a project to address privacy issues with widespread use of third party discussion boards. The project conducted an environment scan of advanced discussion board alternatives and prepared a business case on the benefits or otherwise of quickly providing UQ’s teaching community and students with a centrally supported advanced discussion board alternative to the ‘entry level’ Blackboard discussion board, where it is required.

What is happening? 

UQ will be piloting the Ed Discussion for 6 months, available to all courses in Semester 2, 2021 (from 1 July 2021 to 31 December 2021). Ed Discussion is an online threaded discussion and Q&A platform that offers a wide variety of advanced features and intuitive user interface that enables rich collaboration and engagement between instructors and students by allowing the creation of complex questions and complex answers.

Some of the advanced features, unavailable in the standard Blackboard Discussion Board, include advanced moderation capability e.g. topic categorisation, post endorsement; image annotation and anonymous posting that can be useful for teaching courses in any discipline, and LaTex scientific formatting, and runnable code snippets which are especially helpful for teaching courses with STEM focus.

This pilot will help determine and confirm the need for a central enhanced discussion board and to enable the eLearning team to continue with gathering requirements that would help inform UQ’s acquisition plan for inclusion of the capability in UQs virtual learning environment.    

How is the Ed deployment being communicated?

  • Articles regarding this project will feature regularly in the Teaching and eLearning News newsletter:
  • A set of workshops to inform UQ community of Ed Discussion board features
  • June/July 2021: Dedicated communications on the Ed deployment to previous Piazza and Ed users at schools and faculties.
  • July 2021: Full design and elearning support community advised of Ed being ready for S2 via ELOF-Designers Teams site
  • July 2021: Dedicated update to Library support teams - AskUs and Trainers June 2021: Update on Discussion board investigations – various DLSC
  • 27 May 2021: Presentation at the eLearning Operational Forum (eLOF)  
  • 24 May 2021: Project page created to inform stakeholders
  • June 2021: Update on Discussion board investigations – various DLSC
    • Feb 2021: Enhanced Discussion Board Investigation report

    What is the timeline? 

    • Feb to April 2021: Initial requirement gatherings from stakeholders to understand users’ current needs 
    • May 2021: Price negotiation with vendors   
    • June 2021: Present business case to Project Advisory Board to pilot enhanced discussion board
    • 28 June to 16 July 2021: ITS implements solution in staging for testing and push to production environment once approved (Note: once integrated, tool will be available as a tool link in Learn.UQ course site).
    • July 2021 (O Week):  Professional Learning for staff. Please contact eLearningadvisors@uq.edu.au for more information.
    • July to Oct 2021: Continue with the requirement gatherings. Prepare evaluation report.
    • Nov 2021 to Dec 2021: Prepare a business case and recommendation for Digital Learning Capability Roadmap program and Project Advisory Board.
    • Dec 2021: Conduct a full procurement process if approved