Did you know? Discussion boards in the online learning environment are considered the actual classroom – just like you would see in a brick and mortar university. Many students have often asked me, do we really have to participate in this discussion boards? The answer is yes!
Here is why:
- Discussion forums give you the chance to collaborate with your peers and your instructor on the topics being taught during that time frame so you can gain knowledge.
- They also give the instructor an insight to see if you understand the concepts, through your attentiveness and your conversations with your peers.
- Discussion board participation also will most likely be part of your grade in the class.
So, how do you write thorough discussion threads?
- Ask questions – Asking questions gets your classmate’s thinking so that they can discuss their opinions and/or experiences with the content furthering the conversation.
- Make relevant connections to the real world – Read about current events or discuss work experiences. Anytime you can connect the topics to the real world it helps both you and the class understand just why everyone is taking the class.
- Add similar content – Remember that you are learning different topics during the period that discussion board is open so you mostly likely don’t have to stick religiously to the discussion prompt. Always ask your instructor before adding similar or new context into the conversation. Adding similar content can lead to questions and further discussion for the entire class helping to resolve hard to grasp topics together. Most times if you have a question, someone else has that same question. This question then can be discussed and resolved fast in the forum area. Collaborating always helps learning because we get to see different people’s perspectives on the same topic.
- Watch your tone and abide by netiquette rules – Always be positive and write properly. Using jargon or writing as you would speak makes it harder to understand points and makes replying to your peers difficult. Most universities have specific netiquette policies. Be sure to review them carefully. This is also an area to contact your instructor if you feel uncomfortable with any posts.
- Add a persuasive argument – Drive the conversation further by adding a persuasive argument. A little debating never hurt a discussion – it usually makes it more interesting.
- Conduct research – Research the topic to find current information, videos explanations, and related content. When using other resources always provide citations to give credit to the original author. Check with your university for specific citation policies.
- Draft your post in a text editor – One good thing about developing discussion threads is that we can take our time, find information, and edit our writing before posting it. Be sure that you edit before you post.
- Use Apps – Most universities either have their own app or an app for the learning management system that you are utilizing. Be sure to download these to your smart phone so that you can post read and post replies when you are out and about so that you meet all of the grading requirements. Multitasking will help you to stay on track.
If you are unsure of how to answer a question or are leery of a specific student post and don’t know how to answer – stop and think – contact your instructor and he or she can give you some advice on handle the situation as each one is different. Communication is the key to eLearning!
Dr. Dee, eLearning