10 Best Practices Online Discussion Forum For Students

Today, the practical application of best practices online discussion forum for students determines one performance in online classes. As Robert Quillen once said, “discussion is the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and ignorance. Amazingly this quote is appropriate for all types of discussions: online or offline.

If you are pursuing an online class, your objective is to participate in meaningful conversations with your peers. In this way, you intake new knowledge, learn from other’s experiences, and expand your comprehension of coursework content.

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best practices online discussion forum for students

What are Online Discussion Forums?

Online discussion boards, alternatively known as forums, are places where individuals converse by sharing ideas, addressing questions, and responding to other posts. In educational environments, students typically post their reactions to a specific topic or subject. Then, other forum users respond to one’ initial post.

Often, forum posts contain links, images, videos, opinions, and questions. During a discussion, participants comment on posts leading to dialogue creating threads. As threads grow, they become the foundation of more posts on a topic. Finally, a combination of all threads comprises a message board. Note that discussion forums are either anonymous or require user registration. However, in your case, you will register for a user account on your institution’s web platform. Now let us look at the different types of online discussion forums. Here we have compiled a list of 10 best practices online discussion forums for students.

Types of Online Discussion Forums

Online discussion boards are a crucial component of online courses. Despite the maturity of online classes, not all forums serve the same purpose. Some forums build communities. Others explore innovative ideas, collect knowledge, while others apply new concepts practically. As a result, our best practices online discussion forum tips will help you structure, monitor, and evaluate discussion assignments.

Below is a list of the four common examples of online discussion forums:

Type I. Introduction and Community Building Forums

Online students often feel isolated from the rest of their peers. For this reason, most institutions base their forums on the introduction model. Introduction based discussions are the foundation of student interaction and support as they are comfortable and trusting environments. Besides that, these platforms provide students with an informal space for interacting with their peers.

On the other hand, community-based groups involve students in the sharing of ideas about ongoing projects. Typically, these forums focus on case studies, problem-solving, or brainstorming activities. This type of forum lacks formal evaluation tactics though its guidelines define a grading rubric for participation.

Type II. Initial Content Engagement Forums

This type of forum invites students to think about what they already know. This might be an idea, concept, or problem. Its goal is twofold: (a) encourage students to investigate new concepts and (b) help instructors develop insights into students’ intellectual abilities. Mostly, these forums engage students’ in think-pair-share activities about an idea, concept, problem, or person.

Just like introduction forums, the initial content engagement forum has an informal evaluation strategy. Usually, evaluations occur according to a predetermined rubric that is based on coursework material, relationships, and insights. Often, discussions activities occur after the launch of a new topic followed by a review of assigned readings and other academic content.

Type III. Investigation and Research Forums

In these forums, students participate in the serious exchange of coursework relevant content. Content knowledge activities are the main component of these forums. Examples activities include reading, analyzing, investigating coursework material, building on a student’s previous knowledge and understanding. Sometimes students share insights obtained from case studies or assigned readings, recommendations of potential application of academic concepts in varying contexts, and other discussion activities, including simulation and research possibilities. Instructors evaluate student participation based on one’s level of engagement, depth, and scope of contributions. Note that these forums have an extensive grading rubric as compared to the first two.

Type IV. Integration and Documentation Forums

The primary purpose of this discussion forum is to foster student understanding or to grade performance. Integration and documentation forums engage students in problem-solving, investigating questions, and forecasting activities. Besides that, these forums adopt a reflective, action-oriented, and integrative approach. Example assignments require students to develop posts demonstrating profound thinking and research skills, including the ability to correctly quote authoritative material in support of an argument or claim. Most importantly, this type of discussion forum awards the most points to participants using a formal evaluation method. Also, students receive more detailed feedback from instructors about how to improve their discussion forum skills.

Benefits of Online Discussion Forums

Online discussion forums confer various benefits to learners and instructors alike. As students, they are opportunities to continually react to others, share challenges, and teach others. Besides that, you learn by understanding, stating, experimenting, clarifying assumptions, ideas, or viewpoints. Other benefits of these platforms include:

  • Extension of virtual learning environments through classroom learning activities.
  • Individualization of learning experiences as they do not limit participation to a specific time and place.
  • Promote the development of critical thinking skills. Expertly designed forum topics facilitate the occurrence of meaningful synthesis of complex issues through organized thinking.
  • Students enjoy autonomy during interactions. A primary requirement of college semesters is coursework. Therefore, lecturers are responsible for providing meaningful and extensive learning experiences. In comparison to traditional classrooms, virtual learning classes allow students to continue the discussion outside of class hours.
  • Virtual forums facilitate the occurrence of democratic learning interactions. Some students feel intimidated and unmotivated to engage in traditional learning environments. Others are proactive and have dominant dispositions. As a result, there is unequal participation among students. Fortunately, online classes and discussion boards provide students with equal access to learning activities.
  • Virtual discussion boards are convenient and flexible. For example, students can use our best practices online discussion forums for students to choose when to participate in discussions. Besides, you can participate in online forums regardless of your location or time zone. In this way, virtual classes are great learning alternatives to discussion boards in online courses as they accommodate a student’s family, occupational, and life commitments. You only need an internet connection to participate fully in an ongoing discussion.
  • Online forums are professional communication platforms. Your active participation is a pathway to professional growth and development. As a student, you should remember the purpose and goal of online engagement if you’re to benefit.

best practices online discussion forum for students

How to Improve Online Discussion Forums

Instructors rely on online discussion forums to engage students in the sharing of ideas in educational settings. But without the best practices online discussion forum for students, these activities can become tedious and shallow. So how can instructors engage students in online discussion forums effectively?

As discussion forums have different learning objectives, you need to identify the benefits and deliverables of each phase. Although the design phase may seem challenging, you can move through the process in stages. Then you need to separate complex tasks from the actual event itself. For example, break down topics into segments for assignment to different groups of students. This way, you facilitate the occurrence of collaborative learning and analysis.

Also, instructors could implement hot seat discussions to foster free thought, critical thinking, and dialogue between students. Usually, this approach entails appointing a student to moderate the discussion topic, track, and monitor it. A second approach engages students through questions via an institution’s discussion forum before class time. This way, you determine whether students have understood or completed the relevant course material. Finally, harness the power of appropriate technologies. Most online learning management systems have a horde of practical tools embedded in these platforms. Hence, strategically utilize these tools to enhance students’ quality, value, and resourcefulness during online discussions.

Unlike offline classes where you can hide at the back of the lecture hall, online discussion forums require personal input. Besides, online courses offer numerous benefits. For one, they let you learn from anywhere, whenever, wherever, and however you want. This makes it easier for you to balance work and family commitments. Online learning also allows you to pursue inaccessible or demanding top-class degree programs.

But virtual discussion forums present unique challenges if you are not prepared. Why? Because posting on online forums is not like writing a conventional paper. For this reason, we prepared this post to equip you with the best practices online discussion forum for students to succeed in your online engagements.

# 1: Treat Online Discussion Forums Formally

As you are attending online classes, you need self-discipline. Say, ” I must work on this” and factually follow through. You cannot afford to drag your feet! Otherwise, if you do, prepare to lose participation points. Adopting the right attitude gives you flexibility on when to complete your discussion post assignments. Despite the flexibility of online courses, you can never put off discussion board assignments indefinitely.

Remember, you are paying top dollar for your online course. Let that motivate you to follow through like you would in a traditional classroom. Regardless of your circumstances, always show up if you want to succeed academically and professionally. So, treat online discussion post assignments with the respect they deserve. Or better still regard discussion forums as a job. This way, you create a good foundation for future professional commitments.

# 2: Be Accountable

Establish a habit of setting goals at the beginning of each semester. Then, conduct weekly reviews of your progress. Typically, traditional classroom discussion assignments provide verbal and visual cues for upcoming tasks. In contrast, online forums don’t. Unless your instructor reminds you of the next task, allocate enough time to address the assignment requirements.

Pair up with a classmate to overcome if you find it difficult to be accountable. You can also ask a close friend, family member, or spouse to act as your accountability partner. In this way, you become self-aware, proactive, and organized regarding your online learning program. Plus, these best practices online discussion forums for students helps you focus on your discussion assignments, even when life is chaotic.

# 3: Improve Your Time Management Skills

Creating a learning schedule is one of the greatest appeals of online classes. Even so, this freedom is detrimental if you lack proper time management skills. Without them, you might end up cramming or submitting substandard assignments.

Although your schedule, personality, and learning style determine how you manage time. U*se the tips below to improve your ability to manage your time wisely:

  • Review your syllabus to identify major discussion post assignments. Next, create calendar entries to track upcoming tasks as a semester progresses. While at it, factor in commitments that might interfere with your ability to participate in online discussions. Plan accordingly to ensure you have enough time to complete your assignments. Use the provided best practices online discussion forum for students to prepare for online discussion.
  • Try time blocking when you begin working on your creative discussion board ideas. Allocate tasks a predetermined amount of time before moving onto the next one. Use timers to help you track the time you spend on a task and hold yourself accountable.

# 4: Provide Supportive Facts

As your participation in discussion forums is educational, always provide links to quotes or resources you cite in a post. Plus, using links effectively points your peers to your institution’s virtual library or on the internet. But use only reputable and authoritative sources.

# 5: Use Formal Language

Avoid submitting posts with typos, spelling mistakes, and mixed up logic. Polish a post’s spelling and grammar before hitting the Submit/Post button. Please do so by reading it for a second time. Also, avoid using slang as it is neither professional nor academic. Lastly, never type in all caps as doing so equates to shouting. Apart from that, your readers might consider it rude and annoying.

best practices online discussion forum for students

# 6: Be Precise in Your Posts

Remember misunderstandings are regular occurrences in online forums. So, review your posts for clarity to escape this pitfall. Doing so ensures that your post is clear while minimizing confusion on the part of your audience. Consider reading your posts aloud before hitting the Submit or Post button. This way, you can trace and rectify any errors.

# 7: Never Use Emoticons or Texting in Your Posts

As discussion forums are formal affairs, avoid using texting language and emoticons when making posts. Always write formally. Remember that your audience might consider informal writing casual and immature. Also, refrain from including smileys or linguistic shortcuts typically present in informal conversations with friends.

# 8: Read All Comments before Hitting the Post Button

Remember, once you hit the Submit or Post button, you can never take a post back. For this reason, always think ahead about the content of your post before submitting it. Always read your peers comments carefully. Otherwise, you will repeat what others have contributed. Besides that, you will come across as ignorant of your peers’ perspectives. After ensuring your post will provide something valuable and meaningful, explain yourself as clearly as you can. If you feel that others will misconstrue your post, immediately make the necessary changes.

# 9: Don’t Get Emotional or Take Comments Personally

With online forums, it is impossible to read a participant’s body language, and it is easy assuming they are offensive. Always give people the benefit of the doubt unless they are explicitly abusive. Still re-read your posts to ensure you don’t offend your audience’s sentiments.

Plus, refrain from discussing personal affairs in online discussion forums. Only use these platforms to address the assigned discussion topic and nothing else. Even so, you can review your own experiences connected to an ongoing discussion thread. So if you want to engage others about issues in your daily life, exchange personal details using direct emails. After all, online learning environments are fertile grounds for making friends.

# 10: Recognize and Respect Diversity

An advantage of online courses is meeting lots of different people as the internet is global. Remember, participants in a forum typically communicate using the same language. However, differences in cultural backgrounds and language limit the ability of individuals to express themselves fluently.

Additional Tips

So, if you are attending a virtual classroom, expect to engage with an ethnically rich and multilingual audience. As a result, you should respect the diversity of others’ opinions, feelings, and perspectives regardless of their location, ethnicity, culture, and experiences.

Although it is okay to disagree with otters, never act offensively and disrespectfully. Maintaining an open mind about different perspectives demonstrates your maturity and intelligence. Besides, recognizing the merits of different viewpoints is an excellent way of taking in new knowledge.

As a rule, using sexist, racist, ageist, religious comments, and profanity is a no-no regardless of how funny or innocent they are. If someone offends your sensibilities, control your anger, remain calm, and resist retaliating. Instead, report the incident to your course supervisor, tutor, or instructor.

best practices online discussion forum for students

Wrap Up

Possessing practical skills for participating in online discussion forums is a core requirement for your academic and professional development. As such, we hope you will incorporate the tips in this article. And by doing so, you increase your ability to participate constructively in discussion board assignments. However, keep it in mind that online discussion forum guidelines are evolving. So, treat this price as a primer and be on the lookout for new approaches. Adopt them into your present systems for better results. However, if you find it challenging participating actively in your discussion board assignment, reach out to Myhomeworkempire.com. We have a variety of online discussion board examples you can learn from.


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