How to Write an Online Discussion Post in 2020

Students often struggle with how to write a discussion post in online classrooms. In contrast to traditional classrooms that involve face to face interactions, virtual classrooms utilize discussion boards. Students typically share their thoughts and ideas on discussion board assignments using discussion posts and relevant responses. Unlike classroom discussions, where students voice their opinions, online boards require students to write down their opinions.

What are Discussion Boards?

If you want to succeed in online classes, you’ve got to know how to write a discussion post. But what is an online discussion board?? Discussion boards generally refer to bulletin boards where one posts messages and receives responses from members. In extension, this term refers to websites or sections of a website used for discussing a specific topic or the discussion groups hosted on such a website.

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Role of Discussion Board Posts in Online ClassroomsDiscussion Post 

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. Online discussion forums also help students understand coursework, interact with peers, and develop sharp critical thinking skills. But you must know how to write a discussion post demonstrating your 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, new learning programs mix traditional and hybrid instruction models. Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, most schools and colleges are conducting classes online. So, having effective skills on how to write a discussion post is beneficial in the long and short term.

But how do you compose great online discussion posts that impress your instructors and fellow students? Here are tips on how to write a discussion post.Discussion Post

How Do You Write an Online Discussion Post?

In virtual classrooms, the effectiveness of how to write a discussion post depends on your writing skills. But to succeed, you need to present thoughtful, professional, and meaningful ideas to earn better grades. Use the skills you learn from this article on how to write a discussion post below to create great 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 support and develop persuasive claims.

While at it, look for ways to integrate external sources into your answer. Why? Because knowing how to write a discussion, post determines the forcefulness of your post and elicited responses.

Create a Thesis, Argument, or Question

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

Include Keywords in Your Title

Online discussions generate numerous responses. But great how to write a discussion post skill will make you succeed. 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 in 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. By doing so, you prove you know how to write a discussion 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 demonstrate you know how to write a discussion post. But follow the rules governing the formulation of the different parts of a discussion post. 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. Avoid repetition and trivialities in your writing.

Feel Free to Change Your Stance

It is often 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 when appropriate. 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 it. 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’s 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.

Discussion Post Write Your Response

After drafting your post, it is time to write the actual post on the student portal. 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 using 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. However, 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 theory or concept, but can you apply it practically?

Pro Tip: Remember to cite and reference your sources appropriately. In the next section, we show you how to write a discussion post in either APA, Harvard, or MLA. Including in-text citations in a post demonstrates one’ s academic integrity. Plus, it reveals the depth of a scholar’s research, synthesis, and reading skills. So, consult with your instructor regarding the format style to use in referencing sources.

Head over to Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab for help in formatting posts in APA, MLA, Harvard, and Chicago. Plus, you can always reach out to our professional team of writers at for help on how to write a discussion post in APA, MLA, or Harvard.

Discussion Post APA Format

APA’s format for discussion posts is like that used for a paper. Follow APA’s formatting guidelines for the different sources you are citing. APA requires the inclusion of appropriately formatted text citations and a list of references at the end of a post. Remember, you’re not required to follow APA’s indentation and paragraph spacing requirements. Also, be sure to adhere to all the writing requirements in your post. Doing so increases the credibility of your posts and provides a trail of relevant resources for future research.

Discussion Post MLA Format

At, we receive queries from students on how to write a discussion post in MLA. Formatting online posts in MLA only requires you to adhere to its formal guidelines. Provide relevant details as required by the latest MLA edition.

Discussion Post Harvard Style

Knowing how to write a discussion post in Harvard format is a great skill to learn. Accordingly, follow the rules defined in its latest version. Note that referencing styles differ in several ways. So, practice using them in your posts to develop a grasp of these differences. However, always clarify instruction reading formatting style with your instructors before submitting an online discussion board assignment. This way, you will make excellent posts while making it easy for others to establish the credibility of viewpoints.

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: 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 various factors. What one considers a harmless joke can trigger a barrage of backlash against a user. For example, Roseanna 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 canceling the reboot of her self-titled show.”

Online Discussion Boards Etiquette

Just as traditional classrooms adhere to specific rules of engagement, online discussion boards have their etiquette. Here are a few rules on how to write a discussion post

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, 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 evidence for your position: always support your claims with evidence, such as 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 entire discussion’s foundation. Prompts usually call for examining 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.


Knowing how to write a discussion post is a critical skill for your academic success. Even so, it requires commitment, attention to detail, and consistent work. But if you find this process challenging, offers discussion post help to struggling students. Do not hesitate to seek assistance in writing a discussion board post 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 and provide several discussion board feedback examples. So, keep checking us out!  

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