Unlike a traditional classroom setting where you get to have regular face-to-face interactions with your instructors and classmates, in an online classroom, interactions happen via discussion board assignments wherein students are required to write discussion posts to put forth their thoughts and ideas.
In fact, did you know that one major advantage of online education is that it tends to pull shy students out of their shell by having them actively participate in discussions that take place in online courses? This is what makes discussion posts an integral component of online classes.
Use these Tips to Write a Perfect Discussion Post for your Online Class
Considering the fact that discussion posts are written, you need to ensure everything you post needs to be professional, well-thought of and meaningful because your grades depend on it. Wondering how to craft the perfect discussion post? Here are 6 useful tips to help you stand out in your online course.
Be Thoroughly Prepared
Preparation is key. Make sure you read the discussion post prompts and guidelines carefully before you start your research. Refer to libraries, course material, eBooks and other online sources to be well-versed with the topic so you can take a stand and present a strong argument.
It’s essential to keep a tab of all the external sources that are relevant to your response as you will be expected to integrate them in your answer. The more research you do, the meatier your post and subsequent responses will be.
Present a Strong Argument with Evidence
Firstly, making statements like “I completely agree with you!” or “Good post” is an absolute no-no. This is not a mutual praising society. Instructors want to know your unique point of view here and you need to be able to put forth a strong argument with substantial evidence to back it up.
Even if a classmate has posted something you resonate with, you can begin with saying that you agree with them and then go on to add your unique perspective or relate it to your life experience by sharing an anecdote. You cannot be a yes-man or silent spectator; you need to think of ways to build on that conversation.
Speaking of evidence, given the medium, feel free to attach a video, audio clip or link that supports your argument.
Express Yourself Clearly
You might think writing pages for a discussion post will get you noticed but that is not true. Regardless of the length of your post, what matters most is its quality and the insight you provide.
Very rarely do you get a second chance to explain yourself in online classes. Hence, it is important to express yourself with utmost clarity in the first instance. How do you do that?
Start with organizing your list of ideas before drafting. Use simple language with accuracy and stick to only answering the question. Make sure you avoid repeating yourself and going around in circles.
Draft the Response before Posting
Many students make the mistake of immediately writing the actual post on the portal and hitting ‘send’. Call it confidence or laziness – either way this approach is not advisable.
It’s a good idea to draft the discussion post on a text editor tool before you choose to send it. This gives you time to assess the writing flow, make corrections and ensure you have covered all the key points. Pay close attention to your tone of voice and language.
Even though discussion posts seem like participating in online forums, they are after all an academic form of writing and need you to be professional.
Respond in a Timely Manner
Every discussion is time bound. You don’t want to be one of the last to respond, have nothing unique to offer and get hidden under all the other posts – all of this can have a negative impact on your grades.
Hence, as soon as you are asked to send a discussion post, ensure you get working and aim to be one of the first few to send in the post. Once you have posted your response, you can focus on responding to others and build on their arguments.
As per Brian Redmond, a senior lecturer within the psychology department at Penn State, participating at the deadline does not make for a thoughtful and informative discussion which completely beats the purpose of discussion forums in online courses.
Practice Good Netiquette
Just the way you are expected to be courteous and polite in any public forum, the same is expected out of you in an online classroom.
From not taking disagreements personally and responding to them politely to using professional, academic language as opposed to slangs, jargons and emoticons – it’s important to respect everyone’s opinions and the medium while interacting.
Before writing anything controversial, think whether you would say the same in real life – if not, it’s best to keep it out of your discussion post.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that your discussion posts and responses are being watched and will have an impact on your grade. So, whether it’s doing qualitative research or maintaining decorum, you need to put out accurately crafted, original and insightful posts in order to make a positive impression and stand out!