Discussion Board Style & Structure

So, how do you write an excellent posting in a college course?

  • Review the purpose of the discussion. Is there a particular question you’re expected to answer? Is the discussion space intended to be a place for you to ask questions? Make sure you’re responding as expected in the discussion space.
  • Work with the background reading required for the discussion. Annotate the text with your own ideas and questions as you read; summarize the main ideas to test your own understanding; stretch your understanding by applying concepts and theories to new contexts. Most discussions are designed as spaces to test out and debate ideas.
  • Realize that discussion is a give-and-take situation, a conversation. That means that you should participate frequently during discussion, offering your own ideas and responding to others. You can enter the conversation at different points, with ever-changing purposes and roles, but you need to be there on a consistent basis.
  • Realize that each participant can choose from among many discussion roles and functions. You can post initial ideas, respond to ideas, summarize ideas, point out similarities and differences or trends among ideas, ask questions, add examples, extend the conversation in different directions, and bring the conversation back “on track.”

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