Enhancing Classroom Instruction One Click At A Time

Tips for Success

Most hybrid courses use discussion forums to engage and sustain a community of active learners outside of the classroom. These tips focus on best practices when contributing to discussion forums.

  • Check the discussion on a regular basis. You should plan to login to your course Web site several times a week, not just once or twice.
  • It's recommended that you schedule your time in advance each week to login and do course work for at least 2-3 hours. This will help keep you from falling behind.
  • Make sure that you read and reread your assignment -- print it out for safety's sake -- to ensure that you have completed all aspects of the assignment. It's very easy to overlook something in an online assignment.
  • If you are posting to a discussion forum, read any earlier postings first to find out if you are on track, and to find out what others have said. It's not cheating to learn from others' insights!
  • If you are responding to someone else's posting, make sure that you hit the "Reply" button so that the response will be linked by discussion thread to the original posting. Also make sure that the "Subject" header of your posting is the same as the actual content of your response. If it isn't, the discussion may have wandered off topic or your response may be inappropriate.
  • It's typically a good idea to address the person you're responding to by name, just as if you were speaking to them face-to-face. It's also a good idea to sign your posting. This will make your online discussion more personal, and remind you to be polite!
  • It's ok to disagree with someone, as long as you give good reasons for doing so. Remember that people are perfectly entitled to debate both sides of a course idea or topic, and that reasoned argument is an important part of a university education. Your response should never ever attack someone personally. You can disagree with someone, and they with you, while still remaining respectful.
  • When you post, it's always safer to write your posting first using your local word processor, and save it as a separate file to your local computer. That way you can never lose your work if you are posting directly to the course Web site and your connection fails for some reason.
  • When you post online, you should always use relatively short paragraphs, each one two or three sentences only. This will make your writing much easier to read.
  • No SHOUTING! - Capitalize words only to highlight a point or for titles.
  • Use care when interacting online, since you don't have the ability to gauge a person's reaction or feelings as you do in a face-to-face conversation. In particular, humor should always be used very carefully and where needed, labeled as such.
  • Identify your sources if you use quotes, references, or resources. Your work must always be distinctively your own writing, unless you have indicated otherwise.
  • Most online discussion forums now have the ability to allow you to post while retaining formatting such as bullets, italics, bold text, etc. Ask your instructor or your local Help desk how to do this, since the more professional your work appears, the more highly it will be regarded (and graded).

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