Online Discussion Boards: Tips For Success

Many online courses require students to participate on online discussion boards. An online discussion board is a place for back and forth conversations between students on topics set by the instructor. Just as students in a classroom are expected to behave appropriately when engaging in class conversations, students participating on discussion boards are expected to behave respectfully. Below are some strategies to help you succeed in your next online discussion.

Read the instructions

The most important first step to succeed on a discussion board is to read the teacher’s instructions. Read each discussion topic and instructions carefully. Additionally, read the course syllabus. It will typically state how, when, and how often your teacher wants you to engage on the online discussion board.

Ask a question if you are confused. Chances are there are many other students who are feeling the same. Post a question on the online discussion board if you can. This is also a way to open up a discussion and get to know the class members. You can also email your instructor or contact Tutoring Services.

Do not procrastinate

Don’t wait until the last minute to write your post. It will not be good and no one will respond to it. You are graded on how thoughtful and informative your post is. Be part of getting the conversation going, not the last minute tag on at the end. Your instructor will notice!

Write short, clear and purposeful posts

Being concise in your writing is the key to a good discussion posting. Long postings can be time-consuming and difficult to read. Limit yourself to making one main point or argument per posting. Writing concisely is a valuable skill that needs to be developed. Seek help if you are finding it difficult to write what you want within the word limit.

Don’t rant, present an argument

While discussion boards are a place for you to state your opinions, you are expected to support your opinions by facts. Citing class material and other articles are ways to support your argument.

Review before you post

Keep in mind that even though you are on a discussion board you are expected to use academic language. Your sentences should be clear and complete, and should not contain swear words, emojis, all caps, and multiple exclamation points. Check your writing for tone. Could another student be offended by your writing? If so re-word. Have a friend read over your post or contact tutoring services. When responding to a fellow student's post be polite. Remember none of it is personal.

If you feel emotionally attached to your topic, write your discussion post but do not post it until you have read it again the following morning. Respond by adding value to the conversation Simply replying ‘I agree’ or ‘I like your post’ does not encourage further discussion. Ask yourself ‘Why do I agree?, or why do I like the post? Are there any areas or questions that the post made you think about? Can you ask a question to the poster or other class members?