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Don't let Discussion Boards be the Downfall of your Grade!

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For as many discussion boards as I’ve graded and as many rubrics as I’ve created for online discussion grades, I sometimes still find it difficult to remember to logon and access my graduate class discussion board. Once I get there I find it difficult to come up with something pertinent to say.

Hands down, the greatest mistake students make in online classes is to not recognize the importance of the discussion board. First of all, it is inherently important in online classes because it makes up for (or attempts to make up for) the intellectual exchange of ideas between classmates that happens quite naturally in an on ground setting. Secondly, it is usually an important part of a student’s overall grade. Discussion boards are usually set up for every week of the semester, or organized according to units studied. At first glance, the point value for the weekly discussion board may seem insignificant, but go a few weeks without completing the discussion board requirements and watch your grade plummet!

Here are some tips for conquering the dreaded discussion board and paving the way to an “A” in your online class!

Login early and often! Your participation on the discussion board should ideally resemble an actual discussion. Log in early in the week and make your initial post so that students have time to respond to your post. Then, in turn, you will have built in opportunities to make additional posts by responding to those people. Trust me …professors don’t like it when you race in during the last few hours before deadline and make all of your required posts – it serves no purpose.

Talk about the text Every class is different, but most instructors will look favorably upon a student who quotes the text within her posts …but don’t stop there. Integrate your own thoughts into your posts as well!

Contribute to the conversation Whatever you do, do not say “I agree” and expect it to be considered as a quality post …even if you write “one hundred percent,” “wholeheartedly,” or any variation of these sentiments. Come up with your own opinion, and state it. There is no “right” or “wrong” during discussions. Opinions are just that …opinions. Make sure you state yours, and back it up with facts.

Learn to enjoy your online discussions – a lot can be gained from them, aside from the good grades. Make the most out of your online class, and great grades will naturally follow!

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