Writing Effective Discussion Posts

Whether you are new to the online learning community or a seasoned veteran, being able to compose a thoughtful and engaging online discussion post is critical. As part of working toward your degree via online learning, you’ll need to be able to craft effective discussion posts.

The online discussion forum is a place for you to express your opinions, reflect on your practice, and join in on the conversations with your classmates. It’s a great place to can share your knowledge and to get help if you need it. Making your discussion postings clear, understandable and engaging are all within your reach. Here are a few helpful hints to help you get started:

Carefully Read the Discussion Posting Directions 

What are you being asked to write about or to comment on? Your instructor may ask you to share a personal reflection, a thought-generating question or interesting situation, your summary of an article, or an analysis of your teaching practice. Each of these will require a different type of response from you. Knowing exactly what it is you are being asked to do is paramount in order for you to give the proper response.

Be Prepared 

Before you fire away, take a moment to check. Has all the required coursework been completed prior to your posting – including reading, research, assignments, and practical applications?

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

Although a discussion forum may seem like a casual atmosphere, you still need to cite references in your posting. Make sure you give others credit for their work when quoting it or referencing it to avoid inadvertently letting your writing appear as plagiarism. Don’t worry about the formatting for a reference — just make sure you provide title, author, and date.

Give Your Posts Meaning

Simply responding with “I agree” doesn’t really add anything to the discussion. Why do you agree? What about the response to which you agreed made the most sense to you, or first sparked that interest and need to chime in? Can you connect your experiences, and reference something that you’ve experienced? When you post your comments, whatever you write should improve on the entire discussion and move it forward.

Stay Focused 

A long-winded, unfocused response will most likely turn off other readers and potential responders. Make certain that you are comprehensive and focused on the messaging. Consider exactly what point you are trying to convey and what research or background knowledge is relevant to that point. A high-quality post will seamlessly and cohesively make the connection between theory and classroom application.

Bring Your Background

Your own experiences are important and relevant when you want to express your opinion, state your message in your own voice. If you have a personal story that is relevant, share it! The readers may very well learn more about you from your own relevant real-life experience than from the rest of the post.

Meet Your Deadline

Not only is meeting each deadline important, if you post early, you’ll have a greater chance to participate in the discussion. Your online instructors want to not only see your knowledge and writing ability, but whether you can and do contribute to the conversation. Posting early and throughout the discussion window will help you show your participation.

While you are working on your online degree, there will be a lot asked of you. Your knowledge and experience in education, and your commitment and dedication to your program will all help to ensure your success. Writing thoughtful discussion posts is only one part of your academic program, but it’s a great way for you to shine!

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