Good Discussion Comments: Tips for Students
Nobody responds to me! How do I post successfully? How do I get my
friends to read my posts?
postings should be thorough and thoughtful. Just posting an "I
agree/disagree with your comment" or an "I think the same" to someone else's
thoughts is not considered to be an adequate response.
- Participate regularly in class discussions. This is a simple tip,
but a crucial one. It takes some time for discussions to build up
momentum, so you'll need to return to a discussion frequently to track and
channel its development.
- Don't disappear after posting your comment. A discussion should be
more than a series of e-mail postings. Someone may reply to your
comment, asking for clarification or presenting a difference of opinion.
Check the discussion's progress a day or two after you've posted your
comments, and address other participants' response to your initial post.
- Engage directly with the ideas of other participants. If each
participant in the discussion makes a special effort to relate ideas to
those voiced by other participants, the discussion will maintain a sense of
coherence. Whenever possible, briefly mention which points of a
previous posting you are responding to.
- Choose provocative, informative subject lines for your posts.
Which would you be more inclined to read: a message called "Thoughts" or one
called "My biased opinion on Question 2"? Which title is more
informative: "Re: re: initial post" or "My disagreement with Thesis
- Take time to organize your thoughts before posting. You want
everyone to read and understand your comment, so present it in an organized,
easy-to-read manner. Provide only the most essential information in
your post. If people want further details, they'll ask for them in a
reply. When your comment contains a lot of material, try to break up
the information into short chunks.
- Avoid discussion posts that offer little more than "I agree." Each
discussion posting should offer some new content, aimed to foster continued
exploration of the topic. Stating "I agree" or "I disagree" alone will
not add much to the discussion, and if a number of people post such
statements, the discussion may quickly come to a halt. Raise new
questions, and keep track of issues that have not been fully investigated in
- Remember that discussion is an exchange, not a lecture. Solicit
feedback from your classmates. You should take a clear position in
your post, but it is a good idea to invite alternative perspectives.
What new questions or problems arise from the position you're taking?
How does your position relate to the position taken by other participants?
Funaro, Gina Maria and Frances Montell. December 1999. "Pedagogical Roles and
Implementation Guidelines for Online Communication Tools."
ALN Magazine. Retrieved 2
August 2008 (http://www.sloan-c.org/publications/magazine/v3n2/funaro.asp)