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Making the Most of Discussion Boards for Online Classes

Online classes are advantageous to students who need flexibility with their schedule or don’t live close to campus. While online classes offer flexibility, some students may struggle, as they learn best from interacting with other students. Although the face-to-face interaction that comes with traditional classroom settings is missing, online discussion boards offer students a unique way to discuss ideas and further their knowledge.

Tips for Writing Posts

There are several best practices to follow when starting a new topic. The subject should clearly indicate what the post is about, and it should be specific. It might summarize an opinion, ask a question, or raise an interesting point. Keywords that classmates might search to easily find posts about that topic should also be included in the subject.

The post should also get others thinking. Bold statements, open-ended questions, and even controversial opinions all encourage discussion. Long messages that raise too many points should be avoided, as it’s best to stick with a couple of meaningful paragraphs that explore one main point.

Responses from the original poster are key to maintain a productive discussion! Engaging with other classmates helps people learn and expand their points of view, which don’t have to be set in stone. It’s okay to let classmates know when they’ve raised a point that might change the original opinion.

Responding to Existing Posts

The discussion can’t happen without responses to existing posts. Words may be taken out of context without other cues like body language or tone of voice, so the context must be kept clear. It often helps to include a quote from the original message that indicates what a comment or opinion refers to. Responses should also move the discussion forward, but that doesn’t mean they have to agree with the original thought. Sometimes respectful contradiction, supported by evidence, helps classmates see other perspectives.

Because of the lack of nonverbal cues, discussions sometimes turn into unproductive arguments. Every member of the group needs to work together to provide positive feedback, respond promptly to one another, and use clear, concise language. Controversial humor, comments that could be considered insulting, and negative jabs can hurt the dynamic of the group, and fast, emotional responses can also be damaging.

Learn More About Online Classes

Online discussion boards are invaluable to online learning, helping classmates enhance their understanding of a subject and promoting discussion among classmates and instructors. The Tulane School of Professional Advancement utilizes online discussion boards for many of our online classes. If you’ve considered advancing your career or transferring programs, you might be a great fit for one of our programs and degrees. Call us at (504) 865-5555 or request more information about SoPA now!

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