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Tips for Effective Online Course Participation

CHARACTERISTICS OF A QUALITY ONLINE DISCUSSION POSTING OR MESSAGE:

  • SUBSTANTIAL: Messages should relate to the subject matter and provide information, opinions or questions about that subject matter. They may relate the subject matter to something personal, but they should remain academic in their focus.
  • CONCISE: Studies have shown that discussion postings that are excessively long do not receive replies. To write an effective message, attempt to use a single paragraph--two at most. Try to get the point and focus of your message across so that it is clear what you are saying.
  • PROVOCATIVE: The bulletin/discussion board is an interactive medium. The more interaction the better. A good message is one that prompts others to reply, concur, or object to. A focused and pointed message that produces replies from other learners in that class is moving the discussion forward and is having an impact on the learning environment.
  • HERMENEUTICAL: The bulletin/discussion board is a place where ideas are interpreted and language is explored. To be hermeneutical is to interpret. A good message should explore, explain, or expand on a concept or connection. The message should not simply state something, but rather expand upon an idea.
  • TIMELY: A good message appears in the context of similar messages in the message log. If you get on irregularly, your message will appear late and out of context with what is currently happening in the discussion. Get on regularly and reply to messages in a timely fashion.
  • LOGICAL: A good message that is not a question should contain a logical argument. This means it should contain a clearly stated conclusion of thesis supported by premises, reason, evidence or grounds of belief.
  • GRAMMATICAL: A good, clear, concise message should be well-written and free of typos and sentence fragments.