Video Discussion Boards: The Jury is Still Out!

By: Victoria Miller, PharmD, BCPS; Liz Lafitte, PharmD, BCPS; and Jamie Terrell, PharmD

The use of video communication is being increasingly utilized in education and healthcare, especially under the current circumstances that we are facing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Many educators are having to transition content to an online platform while still trying to engage student pharmacists in meaningful discussions. Discussion boards in online classrooms have been used for many years to facilitate online learning and student engagement, and the use of video discussion boards is now an innovative option to increase students’ social presence in online courses. Research comparing the use of video discussion boards to other online courses in an undergraduate pre-service teaching student population has also shown certain benefits, such as students having reduced feelings of isolation when using video discussion boards.1 

The 2020 Online Education Trends Report also indicates that healthcare professions are in the top three areas of anticipated growth in the online education space within the next five years.2 Pharmacy educators may be under pressure in the near future to conduct more classwork in the online setting, and the use of video discussion boards may be helpful to achieve open dialogue and communication, which are important skills for future pharmacists. There is currently no published data discussing the use of video discussion boards in pharmacy education, so we explored the perceptions of student pharmacists who completed both written and video discussion boards in a blended learning History of Pharmacy elective course.   

Project Objectives

  1. Assess student pharmacist perceptions of their experiences using two online discussion board modalities (typed vs video) 
  2. Compare the student rubric scores of the two discussion board modalities

Video Discussion Board Platform

FlipGrid is a free tool that we utilized to create the video discussion board. It is user-friendly and gives the creator the option to pose the discussion question as text or a video. Students respond to the discussion question by uploading a video of themselves answering the question posed by the creator.  One of the attractive qualities of FlipGrid is that students can filter their videos or add emojis/text to the video background, thus mirroring some popular current social media platforms.

Project Description and Outcome

Twenty-five students in their second professional year were enrolled in a blended learning History of Pharmacy elective course at the University of Louisiana Monroe College of Pharmacy. The majority of the course was delivered using online instruction with only four class periods conducted in person. All students were required to complete one FlipGrid video discussion board and several written discussion board assignments throughout the semester. Students who completed the video discussion board assignment were asked to participate in an optional survey consisting of five Likert-type items ranging from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree and four free response items. Nine of twenty-five students completed the optional survey with most of those students indicating that video discussion boards required more time and effort. They also preferred using written discussion boards over video discussion boards. Only one-third of the student responders indicated that they perceived more connectedness to their classmates using the video modality. Objectively, the average rubric scores for students on the written discussion boards were significantly higher in all domains, except for communication proficiency, which mostly assessed spelling and grammar errors. 

What did we learn from this project? 

Although a larger project with more participants and a higher survey response rate would be needed to validate these results, this study showed that student pharmacists do not prefer the use of video discussion boards. Specific comments from students in the project indicate the following potential issues with video discussion boards: 

  • Increased amount of time spent on the discussion board (both watching other student videos and recording time)
  • A quiet, private area is needed for recording videos, which hinders group studying
  • Performance anxiety about recording videos may lead to numerous attempts and significant preparation time
  • Inability to easily fix mistakes when recording videos 

From a faculty member point of view, using a video discussion board significantly increased the amount of time needed for grading the discussion board. However, I felt much more connected to the students after viewing their video discussion board posts. It allowed me to assess both verbal and non-verbal communication and how they creatively expressed themselves. 

Moving Forward

Although student pharmacists found little value in video discussion boards during the Fall 2019 semester, I am interested in seeing if the perspective would be different now that many students and faculty across the country are practicing social distancing. Viewing videos and experiencing a social connection with other students in online coursework may play a much more significant role in our new reality. 


  1. Clark C, Strudler N, Grove K. Comparing asynchronous and synchronous video vs. text based discussions in an online teacher education course. Online Learning. 2015;19(3):48-69. 
  2. 2020 Online Education Trends Report. Best Colleges. Available at: Accessed May 4, 2020. 

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Victoria Miller is an Assistant Professor at the University of Louisiana Monroe College of Pharmacy. Educational scholarship interests include heart failure clinical practices and the scholarship of teaching and learning. In her free time, Victoria enjoys reading and spending time with friends and family.  

Elizabeth Lafitte is an Assistant Professor and Program Director for Assessment at The University of Louisiana Monroe College of Pharmacy. Educational scholarship interests include assessment of student preparedness and success, 

Jamie Terrell is a Clinical Professor at the University of Louisiana Monroe College of Pharmacy.  Educational scholarship interests include hormonal contraception and the scholarship of teaching and learning.  In her free time, Jamie enjoys playing with her three girls and watching reality television.

Pulses is a scholarly blog supported by Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning

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