Discussion Forum Best Practices

How do I Participate in a Discussion Online?

Effective and Engaging is the Discussion Forum

The forum is an activity where class members can exchange ideas by posting comments online.  A forum can contribute significantly to successful communication and community building in an online environment.

Best Practices to Create an Effective Post

  1. Recognize the purpose of the discussions – in the classroom, learners and instructors hold discussions about the subject matter.  Discussion postings duplicate this interaction when you are online (and online discussion provides a permanent record of your comments).
  2. Read the discussion posting directions carefully – make sure you know what you are supposed to write about and ensure you read all related discussion board questions before you start the reading and other assignments.  This will help you keep focus on the key topics when you are studying.
  3. Prepare yourself – before you write a single word, make sure you have prepared yourself by completing the required reading and coursework. 
  4. Think about the point(s) you want to make – Ensure you clearly articulate your point.  Often, an “A+” post will make the connection between the course theories and ideas and real life. 
  5. Gather your references – make sure you cite your references in your posting.  
  6. Write out your responses before posting – it is a good practice to carefully construct your response in a word processing program prior to posting. 
  7. Follow the rules of discussion posting – most courses have rules, guidelines and grading criteria (often in the form of a participation rubric) for discussion interaction. Make sure you read these before your first post and refer back to them periodically through the duration of the course.
  8. Give meaning and value to your posts – Ensure your posts are worth reading.   Avoid writing, “I agree” or Good thought” or any short response to another posting.  Put in details.  Go deep into why you think a post is good or explain why you agree.  Remember, that it is okay to disagree with a classmate’s posting.  However, be polite if you disagree and make sure you explain why.
  9. Post on time – posting late is like coming up to a professor after class to contribute your ideas.  (Hint: If you are asked to respond to the instructors question(s) and then respond to several other learners, do so early. You will be noticed if you start a good discussion.)
  10. Express some of your “self” in the posting – link new information, concepts and ideas with your prior knowledge and experience.  This not only aids in your learning but also projects an important sense of self into the online discussion.