How Can I Best Participate in an Online Discussion Forum As I’m Getting My Online Degree?

Online-Discussion-ForumOne of the most valuable resources in an online class is the discussion form. It is one of the most powerful resources you have available to you, as well being the most classroom like component of your online education. However, how do you effectively contribute to a discussion forum? Here are a few tips for provoking discussion, responding appropriately to others, and making a good impression while contributing online.

Do Your Research

As a student knows, citing your sources is key. A unique advantage of online discussion is that you can think out your answer, and substantiate your claims with reliable sources. Sharing an online resource that is related to the course’s subject matter is also a great way to encourage discussion. It can provoke conversations that the course’s syllabus alone would not have.

Write Well

As mentioned, online discussion allows you to carefully review your post before you send it. You should use proper grammar, and aim for some degree of concision. This does not mean all of your posts should be brief. You do not have to lose your personal writing style, but you should try to avoid being verbose so you don’t obscure your point.

Be Detailed

Participating in the conversation is important, but the key is to contribute something. If you want to agree or disagree, you should state why you do. Single sentence long statements of your opinion do not help to enhance the discussion. In addition to outlining what you think of a previous poster’s opinion, you can encourage them to share more of their opinion. You can ask them to elaborate certain components of their opinion, or you can play devil’s advocate to see how they address opposing arguments.

Be Cordial

There is never a reason to disrespect somebody for offering an opinion or asking a question, even if you vehemently disagree. It is simply not polite behavior, and you can both learn a lot by having a reasoned discussion. There is nothing wrong with pointing out a logical fallacy in someone’s argument, but do it in an appropriate manner. Two people with contrasting views have the opportunity to deepen and enrich each other’s viewpoints on the subject. Use a disagreement as an opportunity to learn more. Additionally, watch your tone. Some things might sound perfectly normal when saying them out loud, but depending on the context they can come off as rude or sarcastic when they are read.

Read Everything Posted

Before you pose a question or make a point, make sure to read everything on the forum. There may already be a lengthy discussion on the topic. Creating another forum topic can result in the broader discussion being splintered or your contribution being ignored.

The keys to a good online discussion are the same as those for a real classroom discussion: Be respectful of your peers, and do your best to articulate your own opinion.