The use of discussion forums in undergraduate and graduate classes is getting more and more common at UPEI. Usually an instructor will ask you to post in a forum when they want you to engage with your classmates in some discussion outside of class time.
But how do you compose a top-notch post? It is formal or casual? Is it time-sensitive? Who is the audience? What happens after you post it?
Well, you are in luck. We are going to break down our top five tips for being a forum superstar.
1. Post Early. Often you will be required to post a response to a reading or activity; or maybe to reflect on an experience. Usually you will be given a few days (or up to a week) to post. Do everyone a favour and do it early, in order to give your classmates and instructor enough time to read and respond to you. Remember, the purpose of a discussion forum is to engage in discussion. If you leave your post until the last day, your procrastinating ways have an impact on everyone else.
2. Know your audience. Yes, your peers are the primary audience. But your instructor is also reading your posts. A general rule is that your forum posts can be less formal than other academic writing, but should always remain professional, constructive, and well-written. Sometimes your instructor will tell you to use bullets or tables; sometimes you will have a word limit. And, as always, don’t forget to cite your sources! If you are unsure what your instructor is looking for – ask!
3. Back up your work. A reality of working online is that sometimes technology fails. The last thing you want is to compose a beautiful forum post and have your internet disconnect on you. Some people like to write their posts in a Google Doc or Word file and copy the text in the forum. This is a good practice because it gives you time to come back and edit your work before you post it. If you choose to compose directly in the forum… don’t say we didn’t warn you!
4. Check back often. Don’t just post and be done with it! The richest conversation (and best learning) comes from the feedback you will exchange with your peers. Read your peers’ posts, leave comments, and ask questions. Forums are a great opportunity to dig deep and take your learning one step further.
5. Read through the forums before your final exam. Your instructor will often choose the big-ticket topics to focus class discussion. What could be better than having a written record of all of those class discussions?? If your instructor thinks it was important enough to dedicate an entire forum, chances are you will see that topic on your exam. Don’t forget to go back and review those discussions while studying. You can thank us later.
Need some help navigating your Moodle course? Have further questions about posting in a forum? Get in touch with the E-Learning Office by clicking here.