in Online Discussions
becomes obvious that the online classroom differs from traditional classes
in many ways. One of the most obvious is how communication occurs. To
succeed in an online class, it is essential for students to know how to
effectively communicate with classmates and instructors.
Links to sample discussion board expectations and netiquette appear at the end of this information.
to Do When Participating in Online Discussions
that virtual communication is real and human.
not talk to a computer; rather you interact with your classmates and
instructor through your written responses to posts on your course site.
You create a sense of presence by personalizing your responses and reading
those posted by your classmates. This dialog offsets the feeling of
isolation, and the more you participate the more you will feel involved
mental pictures of classmates.
you say and how you say it, you develop your electronic personality,
the person you become when you are interacting with others. You get
to know your classmates and instructor in the same manner. It is from
these written images that you "see" one another. While you
should have fun, remember to keep your responses appropriate to the
college classroom setting.
advantage of the online environment.
one can see you, there are no stereotypes. Also, you are not affected
by visual feedback or interruptions from your classmates. In addition,
you wont be intimidated by individuals who speak faster than you
because you can take all the time you need. You can think your ideas
through, reflect on the assigned topics and materials, and write and
edit your responses before you post them for your class to read and
a "noisy learner," one who is active and creative and talkative.
not only "go to class" but also say something. Because your
presence is not visible, if you dont respond to discussion board
posts, e-mail, or chat room dialog, it is as if you are not in class.
This requirement differs greatly from the traditional classroom, where
you can often just show up, sit down, and listen. Through your online
discussions you gain new ideas from your peers, and they learn from you
your comfort level.
this online environment different for you? Just as you would in a face-to-face
(f2f) class, talk with your classmates and instructors about your fears
and insecurities as well as your successes and surprises. The difference
is that you are doing this through writing. As you share your feelings,
you are also building a sense of community.
polite and respectful.
students feel that because they are not visible, they can say whatever
comes to mind. A topic or comment that is not applicable in a traditional
classroom is not appropriate in an online discussion either. Remember
you are talking with real people. Being polite and respectful is essential
to create a productive and supportive learning environment. In this
setting, you will feel valued by your classmates and instructor, and
your work will have greater value as well.
and word choice may cause communication problems.
there are lapses between the time posts and responses are made, it is
important to ask a clarifying question if you are not sure what your
classmate or instructor meant in a message. Conflicts may arise. This
is not necessarily bad. However, resolution of conflict takes patience
up if you are having problems.
way for your instructor to know you are having problems is if you say
so. State exactly what is causing the difficulty so the solution quickly
can be found. Exchanging messages with your classmates also is helpful.
Someone else may understand something you do not, and you may have the
information that someone else needs. When its your turn to explain
something, you not only help a classmate but also reinforce your own
knowledge of the subject.
to Contribute to the Discussion of Ideas
Before you respond...
the expectations and norms for respectful interaction, as well as how
to follow directions for completing the assigned tasks.
in paragraphs, not sentences! Avoid overly brief responses. You cannot
deal with a complex issue in a quick sentence or two. You want to show
that you have given a matter serious thought.
carefully what your classmates and instructor have posted.
on what you have learned and what impact this information has on your
beliefs and behavior.
or make notes of the points you wish to answer or discuss or question.
Remember that a question is as valuable as an opinion in the course
of discussion. It shows that you are trying to understand others and
that your opinions must be backed up by your text, online readings,
points made during discussions, library and Internet sources, experts
in the topic, as well as your own experience.
When you write your
your comments with a quick summary of the discussion or point, such
as "As I understand it,
." Stating the central idea
shows that you are trying to understand and what you have learned.
it is clear to the class and your instructor when you are summarizing
and when you are giving your opinion. Examples: "According to the
author of the text,
."; "I disagree with Roberts
your comments topic-related and to the point.
variety of responses.
upon, justify, or support ideas
Include quotes from your readings
Point out a classmates comment relates to one your made
Ask for feedback in relation to a point you state that might be
controversial or misunderstood.
discussion topic is based on readings, follow these steps:
course lectures, articles, text readings, and linked materials.
Find the authors central point and restate it in your own
Decide what your opinion or reaction is to what is stated.
- Write your response, using examples and quotes for support.
why your response may not be effective
didn't follow the directions for the assignment.
strayed off the topic.
response was incomplete and did not include all information requested.
- Your response was not clear, accurate, precise, or relevant.
response was too brief.
WRITE: An Acronym for
Online Teaching Guide by Ken W. White and Bob H. Weight
you are engaged in discussions with your classmates and instructor,
not the computer.
up with the discussion. If you were in a traditional class, it would
seem strange to wait until the end of the week to give your thoughts
about what other students have been discussing for days. You will quickly
feel left out, and rightfully so!
is reduced when people as questions rather than make statements. We
also like to be asked our opinions as it makes us feel listened to and
that our ideas are of value.
and instructor will not be as quick to disagree with you if you say
"It appears that
." rather than "It is
in the role of your audience. How do you sound to others? How do you
think they will respond to what you have said? Do you think anyone will
be offended by your words or phrasing?
|Samples of Professor Expectations for Discussion Board Responses
Discussion Board Participation Rubric (University of Wisconsin)
Rubric for Asynchronous Discussion Participation (University of Delaware)
Guidelines for Students Participating in Online Discussions (Mt. San Jacinto College)
Participating in Online Discussions (Academy of Art University)
Basic Guide to Online Discussions pdf file will download (Utah State University)
Sites for Online Netiquette
Netiquette "Netiquette" is network etiquette, the do's and don'ts
of online communication. Netiquette covers both common courtesy
online and the informal "rules of the road" of cyberspace.
This page provides links to both summary and detail information
about Netiquette for your browsing pleasure.
Netiquette Learn the basics
Emoticons Smiley Dictionary
Replies and Etiquette A guide to how to more effectively communicate
Go to Online
Go to Online Reading
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