One of the primary forms of communication within an online classroom is the discussion board. This is an essential component of classroom participation and usually carries a significant portion of a student’s grade. We’ve developed some general guidelines regarding how to effectively post, and we wanted to share them with you. We think they are useful for anyone taking an online course, regardless of the program.
Meet the question criteria. Make sure you answer all aspects of the question! This is essential if you want to earn full credit for the post.
Engage with fellow students. If this were an in-person conversation, how would you discuss it? What questions would you pose?
Stay on topic. While you may have some tangential thoughts regarding the topic, try to keep the posts on the board within the sphere of the subject. If you have tangential thoughts you’d like to discuss, simply start a new post. (This is definitely encouraged!)
Think and read *before* writing. Do not come to the discussion board and write out your ideas without having first thought through them.
Read the directions carefully. There are often several components to a post; you don’t want to lose points simply because you failed to read thoroughly. And, sometimes, you may learn that the question is not as complicated as you thought it was; it may just take a closer read to determine exactly what is being required. (When in doubt, ask your classmates, or email your professor).
Read other posts before posting. You may find ideas about where to carry the conversation. Why merely state the same thing that someone else has already had? Build on the ideas of others; raise questions based on your classmates’ posts. Answer questions your peers have posed. In responding to your classmates, be sure you are still meeting the assignment criteria.
ENGAGE IN THE COMMUNITY DISCUSSION.
Create a conversation. This is a *discussion* board. A discussion involves banter back and forth. Make sure that your post opens opportunities for others to respond to you.
Enter / stay in the conversation. Relate your post to the posts of others. Refer to the others in the group by name when referencing their discussion posts.
Let others know your opinions. Include practical advice and ideas you’ve learned from experience.
WRITE CLEARLY AND PROFESSIONALLY.
Meet the length requirements. (100 word minimum for CAPS BSOM students).
Use proper grammar. Don’t stress over this part, but do your best to write clearly and correctly.
Use proper spelling. There is a spell-checker built into the text box in most discussion boards, so there is no excuse for having misspelled words in your post. And, if there is not a spell-checker built into your board, copy and paste your post into Microsoft Word to check it before submitting.
Be considerate and courteous. You will not agree with everyone on the discussion board. That is part of the point of having a discussion: discussing multiple sides. So, please feel free to openly state disagreements. However, please remain courteous and kind in your responses to those with whom you disagree.
Post on time! Most professors do not give credit for late postings. And, those who do likely subtract a late penalty!
Getting used to communicating online can be a transition, but following these guidelines should help to ease you into the transition more smoothly. There are many other “tips” that could be given regarding posting to discussion boards, but these are the ones we’ve found most helpful.
What are your tips for posting online? Please share them with us in the comments section below.
Kelly is a recruiter for the CAPS Program. She enjoys serving the Lord through children’s and high school ministries at her local church, East Cooper Baptist and has a heart for learning and teaching God’s Word and for missions.