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Guidelines for interacting in discussion forums

Just like a face to face class, it’s important to contribute to discussions in a professional and respectful manner, that promotes a positive learning environment where you and your classmates feel valued and supported.  As a flexi student online you don’t have the same visual cues as you would in an face to face conversation, so always take time to think and reflect before you respond to others in a post.

  • Share your experiences. Be open to sharing your own personal, work or educational experiences in relation to the discussion. This enriches your post and offers new insights for your classmates to consider.
  • Time is needed to read through all previous posts, consider the topic theme and then to formulate your own response.
  • Engage directly with the ideas of other participants. Highlight and develop ideas discussed by the others previously. Always take care to critique and challenge ideas in a careful, professional and constructive manner. Remember to provide lots of positive feedback.
  • Participate regularly! To feel connected and engaged in a discussion forum you must participate regularly. It's easier to keep up if you make short but frequent visits to the site. If you leave it for a week or more between accessing the course you will find it hard to catch up, and may feel overwhelmed by the many messages that have accumulated.
  • Make sure your post is relevant to the discussion topic. If you have a new idea, start a new discussion topic and give it a clear descriptive title. This way your classmates can focus on discussing one topic at a time.
  • Be concise and clear. Take time to articulate your post in a clear and precise way.
  • Encourage your peers to participate. A good way to encourage participation is to end your own post with an open ended question. This invites others to respond. Try also to remember to step back sometimes, to allow other participants space to discuss.
  • Reference or acknowledge the work of others. If you're responding to other people's posts, you can copy and paste the most relevant passage from their posting in your response. Make sure you use quotations and acknowledge this person.
  • If you are not happy about a comment, then its best to communicate this directly to your lecturers rather than post a response. Avoid any flare ups – as they can easily escalate in an online environment.


Last modified: Thursday, 13 June 2013, 2:25 PM