College students will participate in any learning activity when they feel it helps. Students have an uncanny sense of a tipping point of use. Is it worth my time? Will it help me get a better grade? Discussion boards only work if they help and not hinder online learning. Discussing course content online can be as useful as discussing it among physical classmates. In fact, actively using discussion boards can encourage students to be active users not passive watchers. Users are motivated to engage. Watchers disengage. The present paper provides six examples of how DB motivated online learning. These examples are not exhaustive, but include DB as a way to organize teams, use other tools, file share, mentor, share experiences, and create a small learning community within a larger class. The advantages and disadvantages of using discussion boards are then presented along with some conclusions about motivation theory. The main purposes of this paper are to: 1) provide examples of the use of DB that illustrate the impact of emotion and motivation on successful online learning and 2) connect these examples to current theory. Active users learn, passive watchers don’t. Discussion boards can be a very effective learning tool, but only if the professor wields the power of motivation.



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