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Written Communication in Discussion Posts

Now that you are an online student, the majority of your communication will be written.  The virtual classroom is different than social media; therefore, a higher level of written communication is expected. Here are some tips for written communication in an online learning environment:

  • Avoid slang, use standard spelling and spell check on your posts. This is important in college level courses. It makes it easier for people to understand your message and not get bogged down in the way that the post is written. 
  • For online posts in discussion forums, refer to the discussion rubric. Frequently your instructor will post a grading guide or rubric for the discussion. It shows how you will be graded for each discussion assignment and gives guidance on expected content/format.
  • Write a strong discussion post.
    • When responding to others’ ideas directly one might summarize an interpretation of the original posters’ thoughts and ideas and then offer a counter or additional point.
      1. For example “As I understand what you are saying (Student) there are three main concepts that make up the theory of_____. An additional concept we might include in this theory includes ______________.”
      2. Another example “As I understand what you are saying (Student) are A, B, and C. While understanding this, I offer the counter idea for A, B, or C reasons.”
      3. You should also support and attribute appropriately even when paraphrasing ideas or concepts within an established field of study.
  • Avoid "me too" posts. These are short posts that add little to the discussion. Always have a reason for posting and elaborate on this reason in your posts. If you agree (or disagree) with a post, then say why--and support your statement with concepts from the online lecture or assigned readings, or by sharing a related example or experience. 
  • Post links and references. If you are using a textbook or an online source, post the page of the book or link to the source in your post. It allows people to see where your information came from.
  • Stay on topic and be concise. It is important in educational forums for you to keep your discussion focused on the task at hand. Reread the discussion prompt that your instructor has provided; construct your post with this in mind.  It is easy to use personal anecdotes to support your ideas, but in an educational setting you should concentrate on the facts of the prompt unless asked for personal details.
  • Use the Writing Center Mentors. If you need help with writing skills, please make an appointment with a writing mentor. The Writing Center has multiple resources and mentors available to help you improve your writing skills.  They will work to ensure you understand and meet assignment requirements and this can include a discussion board post.  The writing mentors will offer you constructive criticism to enhance your paragraph structure, citation style, content, and mechanics. Remote appointments are available: