How to Write a Great Discussion Post

If you are wondering how to write a discussion post, wonder no more! In this post, we share tips on how to do just that.

Traditional classroom settings involve face-to-face interactions between instructors and students as compared to online classes, which utilize discussion boards. Students typically share their thoughts and ideas on assignments using discussion posts and relevant responses. Unlike classroom discussions, where students voice their opinions, online boards require students to write down their opinions. It is therefore paramount to learn how to write a discussion post.


What are discussion boards?

A key element of online classrooms is the discussion board. But what is an online discussion board? Discussion boards generally refer to bulletin boards where one leaves messages and receives responses from members. In extension, this term refers to websites or the section of a website used for discussing a specific topic or the discussion groups hosted on such a website.


Role of Discussion Board Posts in Online Classrooms

Discussion boards serve a variety of purposes. They are an opportunity for students to present unique insights on specific topics and respond to posts from others. Besides that, discussion boards allow the sharing of experiences and material.  Also, online discussion forums help students understand coursework, interact with peers, and develop sharp critical thinking skills. But the best discussion posts demonstrate a student’s understanding of course content and the ability to generate or elicit thoughtful responses from both instructors and peers.


Although discussion boards are the norm in online classes, programs mixing traditional and hybrid instruction models are increasingly popular today. Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, most schools and colleges are conducting classes online. So, improving your ability to write and respond to discussion posts is valuable to your academic and professional development.


But how do you compose great online discussion posts that impress your instructors and fellow students? This post will show how to write strong discussion posts.


What Makes a Great Discussion Post


In virtual classrooms, discussion posts depend on the written word. But to succeed, you need to present thoughtful, professional, and meaningful ideas if you want to earn better grades. Use these tips to help you create and write discussion posts on any topic.


Understand a post’s prompt

First, prepare! Make sure you understand the post’s prompt and guidelines before researching. Then, use your school’s library, eBooks, course material, and online sources to gather evidence and information for making a claim and developing a persuasive argument.

While at it, look for ways to integrate external sources into your answer. Why? Because the quality of your research determines the forcefulness of your post and elicited responses.


Create a thesis, argument, or question

After reading through your material, formulate a suitable thesis, question, or argument. Consider how you are going to support it. Then, review other postings for ideas on how to support or refute claims and write about the prompt. Locate posts that lack supportive evidence and probe the writer for more. Also, you can play devil’s advocate or ask questions. But keep in mind that opinions are not arguments. So, support your arguments using collated course material and external sources.


Include keywords in your title

Online discussions generate numerous responses. So, look for ways to make your posts easy for others to understand. Including relevant keywords in your title is an effective tactic. Appropriate titles indicate to others the flow and directions of your presented content. Using a phrase such as “My opinion of Marx’s Materialist Theory of History” is more potent than “I think that this week’s readings were informative”. Remember you can use titles to summarize arguments, opinions or questions as well. Here is an example: “Freud’s Theory of Personality Development.”


Incentivize Discussion

Sometimes, you will post first on a discussion board. If so, make bold claims or use open-ended questions to encourage discussion from fellow students. Note that others respond and cite the first posters most often. Even after posting, regularly check the discussion board to track responses to your initial post.


Express Your Thoughts Clearly

Make concise, clear, and purposeful posts. Students think making long posts will get them noticed, but that is not so!  Instead, it is the insights and quality of your posts that recommend your writing. Also, keep your readers in mind as long rambling posts are difficult to read online. A basic rule of thumb to follow is to present a single point in each post, along with its supporting evidence and examples.

Before you begin, make a list of the main ideas. Then, use plain language while sticking closely to the question under discussion. It is essential to avoid repetition and trivialities in your writing.


Feel free to change your stance

At times, it is intimidating to take a side because writing documents one’s thoughts or ideas permanently. Even so, you can change your initial claim, stance, or argument. Simply leverage new information from the discussion to articulate your new position. Also, remember that learning is about growth and change.


Draft your answers before posting

Avoid the pitfall of writing your posts on the portal and sending them. Why? Because this approach is overconfident and lazy. It is better to draft your post on a word processor you prefer before submitting it. In this way, you can assess a post’s flow, make necessary changes, and ensure it meets the discussion rubric. Drafting a post lets you pay close attention to its language, tone, and voice.  Although discussion boards are like social networks, they serve an academic purpose.


Write your response

After drafting your post, it’s time to write the actual post. Follow these steps to do so.


Use the provided tools: most student portals provide students with tools for writing their initial posts. Use bullets to format your post into scannable paragraphs. You can also use your portal’s preview and spell-checking tools when writing a post. If you find it challenging to use the provided tools, substitute your favorite word-processing application to prepare a post. Then, copy-paste it into the discussion board.


Stick to the rules of discussion postings: only respond to the provided prompt, question, or topic. If required to respond to other posts, do so as well. Usually, online forums have specific rules governing discussions. Read them before making your post.


Make meaningful posts:  avoid short responses such as “good thought” or “I agree”. Instead include details explaining your in-depth analysis of the post. Doing so demonstrates your thoughtful engagement with the content in a post. Although it is okay to agree with a classmate’s post, present disagreements politely if necessary.


Express yourself in a post: sometimes the best posts integrate personal anecdotes, instead of a convoluted explanation of a theory. Your ability to integrate theories in real-life scenarios is what distinguishes effective classroom discussions from other online forums. Indeed, you might have read about a particular theory or concept, but can you apply it practically?


Sample discussion post

Check out the sample below to learn more about what makes a great discussion post.


“Jack Sparrow claims that “human expressiveness involves two essential attributes, namely the aura one conveys and one’s expressions.” However, how this claim relates to social media is entirely different from prevailing perceptions. An individual’s social media post may confer different meanings to different people based on a variety of factors. What one considers a harmless joke can trigger a barrage of backlash against a user. For example, Roseanne Barr’s tweet comparing Valerie Jarrett to an ape resulted in people labeling her a racist. Although she intended the comment as a joke, the public interpreted it negatively. As a result, the backlash she incited resulted in NBC cancelling the reboot of her self-titled show.”


Online Discussion Posts Etiquette

Just as traditional classrooms adhere to specific rules of engagement, online discussion boards have their etiquette. Below are several rules to follow when composing online posts and responses.


When posting

  • Know fellow participants: Use your first post to introduce yourself to the online community. Also, look for ways to connect personal experiences to course content while responding to the issues raised in the discussion.


  • Use simple formatting: as a student, keep the formatting of your posts simple. Doing so ensures that your audience can read, understand, and respond with ease.


  • Be clear when posting: expressing yourself with clarity entails using correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Avoid acronyms, jargon, and slang and always proofread writing before posting.


  • Avoid jokes: the nonverbal nature of online interactions makes it challenging to determine when a person is joking. And online discussion forums are not immune to this problem. To minimize confusion or miscommunication, avoid jokes or sarcasm when posting.


  • Approach assignments seriously: answer the discussion post completely and promptly. Consider what you are writing and apply the relevant course readings. Doing so demonstrates you have read, digested, and are thinking of ways to apply the material.


When responding

Disagree with your peers respectably: disagreements are typical aspects of all discussions. First, agree with your peer’s post and then express your disagreement. But cite specific evidence from a post to demonstrate your point. Avoid using adjectives to describe a peer’s post and include occasional compliments when necessary.


Always remain polite: do not forget your manners just because you are interacting online with fellow students. Instead, recognize and respond to a classmate’s stated viewpoint and nothing else. Then, continue the discussion by highlighting a different perspective than theirs. Remember, the goal is to encourage discussion rather than stifle it.


Provide proof for your position: always support your claims with evidence, for example, quote statistical data from course content or external sources. Use reputable books, journals, or websites. Always include a work’s name, author, and page number to direct readers to the location of cited information.


Respond to prompts first: always respond to your instructor’s prompt first, as it is the foundation of the entire discussion. Prompts usually call for the examination of ideas, resources, and their link to course content or programs. Later, comment politely to the response of your peers if the prompt encourages interactions between students.


Write a Great Discussion Post Today!

Writing online discussion posts is a process. Even so, it requires commitment, attention to detail, and consistent work. Use these tips to fine-tune your writing skills and do not hesitate to seek assistance if you are stuck. If you are wondering, how do you write a discussion response? A future post will discuss how to do so effectively. So, keep checking us out!

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