Communicating in the Online Part of Your Course
Online discussions are an integral part of most hybrid courses; they are the essence of the online-hybrid portion of the class. When you write in online discussions, it is like you are ‘talking’ in a regular classroom. When you read what your classmates write in online discussions, it's like you are ‘listening’ to them talk in a regular classroom.
Writing = Talking
Reading = Listening
Here are some proven success strategies for online discussion forums.
“Read all of your classmates’ message postings whenever there is a forum for any assignment -- this way, you will definitely get helpful ideas and useful responses from your peers.”
In the online discussion forum your presence is indicated by the writing you do on the assignments. In fact, if you do not complete the online writing work for that week, there is no record that you did anything.
Consider how you are portraying yourself in your writing to the class and your instructor.
- Be respectful and positive, yet honest.
- Use clear sentence structure and grammar.
- Do not use ‘texting’ shortcuts; this is a college class.
- Your writing in forums doesn't need to be ‘perfectly correct’ at all times, but it should be understandable without the reader having to ‘interpret’ what you are trying to say.
“Discussion boards allowed people to critique and evaluate each other’s work without having to look them in the eye. Most people find it difficult to criticize someone who they barely know and they don't want to offend them. Being online can offer an opportunity for a refreshing honest opinion that you normally wouldn't receive. It allows people to build relationships.”
Read your classmates earlier postings first to find out how they are addressing the assignment, find out if your ideas are on track and find out what others have said. It's not cheating to learn from others’ insights. It's collaboration!
Respond on Time
Many online discussions will have two (or more) due dates:
- One for your first, original post and
- another for your reading and responding to your classmates’ posts.
“Things pile up fast!”
It's a good idea to address the person you're responding to by name as if you were speaking to them face-to-face. It's also a good idea to sign your posting. This will make your online discussion more personal and immediate.
Save Your Work
Before you post to an online discussion it's always safer to compose it first on you word processor and then save it as a separate file to your computer. You can lose all your work if you type directly into the forum -- you may accidentally delete it or your discussion may not save if Blackboard suddenly goes down!
Document Your Writing
Identify your sources if you use quotes, references or resources. Your work MUST be your own distinct writing, unless you indicate otherwise.
Use Correct Formatting
Blackboard Forums allow you to retain formatting of the original (italics, bullets, bold, etc.). If you list book, film, journal, etc. titles, they should be in italics.
Some material adapted from:
Drexel University - Scott Warnock
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee - Alan Aycock