Online Learning: 5 Easy Tips for Discussion Boards

We’ve already tipped you off about the ways in which we could manage your live chats, so it’s time that we also talk about how you could make the most out of your online education through discussion boards. To review, a discussion board (or forum, as others may call it) is a mode of communication that online courses use for their students. It’s quite different from live chats because the conversations in discussion boards do not have to occur in real-time. This now presents a new set of norms for the online learner to follow, rules in which they should be mindful of so that they could maximize their learning. Here are 5 easy tips for using discussion boards:

Easy Discussion Board Tip #1: Be mindful of ‘netiquette’

Following the norms of internet etiquette can never really be over-emphasized. Being polite transcends cultures and this fact makes it all the more important for the web. Remember to use appropriate capitalization, correct punctuation, and to write in complete sentences (i.e. no text-speak). Try to learn the rules of the specific forum you are replying to. Don’t flood posts, but also don’t be a wallflower. Use the ‘search’ function whenever you’re unsure of what you’re writing about.

Easy Discussion Board Tip #2: Be on-topic

Discussion boards are not live chats. Each post is a fragment of a conversation, and it’s up to the users to ensure a free-flowing exchange of ideas. Each reply should contribute to the thread, and take the conversation further. Take note of the ideas of the previous poster then try to complement it or add to it with your ideas. Nothing is more frustrating than a member who chooses to post whatever he wants.

Easy Discussion Board Tip #3: Speak your mind

Don’t be a lurker. Be an active participant in the forum. Just like the class discussions of a brick-and-mortar classroom, the forums are designed so that everyone could freely add their ideas with only a little moderation. Try to keep your point across in a manner that you’ll be quickly and clearly understood. At the very least, it’s an opportunity to exercise your communication skills and something useful to make out of reading your textbook.

Easy Discussion Board Tip #4: Contribute

The same as what we suggested in live chats, always remember to share resources in the discussion board. Post links that are relevant to the topic or quote a passage from something you read. Discussions are fueled by facts and ideas, and it’s with these contributions that keep it going. You could also place additional links that lead to egroups or live chats if you think the conversation needs some real-time handling. You’ll certainly see its usefulness come examination preparation period.

Easy Discussion Board Tip #5: Remember to have fun

Discussion boards are not just all about work. Forums almost always have emoticons or bulletin board codes to help users personalize their posts. Make use of the board codes to bring some light-heartedness into the conversation. You could also format your posts in such a way that people could instantly see that it was you who were posting. You could also create a unique forum signature to end your posts with or just use the same font consistently to add some interest.

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