4 Tips for Participating in Online Discussion Boards

Discussion boards can play a large role in the online classroom. Posting in a discussion boards can account for a small percentage of final grades or the majority of the course load in online college courses. Once you’re sure online enrollment is right for you, it’s important to have a game plan so that posting is time-effective and worthy of the best grade possible. Follow these four tips for participating in online discussion boards.

Follow the Instructions

This step may seem like a given, but it cannot be overlooked. Taking the time to review the instructions, especially if they’re highly specific or guided, can save time in the long run. This way, there’s no risk of spending a great amount of time writing a post only to realize that it’s unusable because it doesn’t fill the requirements.

Take Notes on the Material while Reading

It would be fantastic if we all had photographic memories of material after reading it, but short of a photographic memory, the next-best thing is to take notes. Jotting down the important information from a class will make writing a post easier, and it will prevent wasting time reading the same content twice.

Get a good understanding of the discussion (at least at first)

There are advantages and disadvantages to posting first and last on online discussion boards. Waiting for others to post lets one see the general tone and topics for the assignment, but it may be difficult to introduce an observation that hasn’t been covered by other students. Most students new to online learning prefer to post in the sweet spot once a few people have posted, but while it’s still early enough to introduce new thoughts to the discussion.

Check for Tone

Though this may seem nit-picky, it’s important to have the right tone when posting on discussion boards. Sometimes the tone is more laid-back and casual, and posts mimic casual real-life conversations. Other times, posts resemble formal essays, often even including introductions and conclusions. It may be beneficial to check the syllabus to see if the instructor has set tone requirements before starting, or simply see how other students are writing.