Funded by the Northwestern University Office of the Provost

Fostering Effective Online Discussion in Higher Education with ‘Nebula’, a Graphical Interface for Discussion Boards

The growth of online and blended learning environments has created a greater need for students to interact with one another, engage in higher-order processing of information and develop a sense of community. Online discussion boards have the potential to offer an engaging and social environment for students, but they often fail to live up to expectations in the classroom due, in part, to current design features. Iravani, Contractor and Ng intend to leverage information visualization techniques in the design of a graphical discussion forum interface called “Nebula.” Traditional discussion boards use a linear text-based format that displays posts chronologically; “Nebula” presents discussion as a network graph, in which posts are nodes and replies are the edges that link posts to each other. Their goal is to facilitate collaborative learning through the development of an optimal environment for students to learn from each other. Another goal is to increase contextual learning by having students immerse themselves in classroom material before and after coming to class.

Learn more about Nebula and its creators here.


SONIC Team Members:

New App Shows Online Discussions as Interactive Graphs, Northwestern McCormick School of Engineering