Discussion Forum Guidelines

You are required to participate in discussions on selected topics each week.  The Discussion Forum is like attendance in class – it is designed to create a virtual classroom where students can share ideas and learn from one another.

Closing Dates and Late Submission
Discussion topics will close on Sunday evenings at midnight each week.  To take full advantage of class discussion, you should post your first entries early in the week in order to allow time for follow up responses. The closing date for discussion topics is when the conversation should end, not when it should begin.

Late submissions for discussion postings will not be accepted – like attendance, if you miss the class there is no make-up.

Posting Guidelines

The length of your initial post should fill the message window. Avoid postings that are too short (one or two sentences with undeveloped ideas) or too long (don’t “hog” the conversation!). A thoughtfully prepared paragraph that makes a clear and concise contribution should be your goal

Your post should reflect your understanding of assigned course resources, not just an opinion. Your opinion is valuable, but only if it is informed by what you have learned.

Have a Thesis:
Do not post a message until you are ready to make a significant contribution. Make sure you have something to say, and that you say it clearly

Don’t Repeat What Others Have Already Said:
Your post should reflect the fact that you have read what other students have written, and that you are prepared to contribute something new. There will usually be several questions, which should enable you to contribute something new without repeating something one of your classmates has already addressed.

Grammar and Spelling:
Although your audience is your peers, do not take a casual approach to your discussion postings. You are participating in academic discourse, not emailing your friends, and your language should reflect this. Your postings should be well thought out and well written, with careful attention to grammar, punctuation, spelling, and word choice.

Helpful Tip: 
Prepare your message in your word processing program first, and then paste it into the message box. Blackboard can be very temperamental and this will avoid the frustration of losing your work.

Follow-up Posts
You are required to make at least one follow-up post responding to one of your classmates’ posts. A follow-up post can take the form of a comment, question, observation, analogy, or example.  It can also take the form of a “shared resource.”  If you can’t think of anything to say, use your research skills to find a resource that you think is relevant to the conversation.  To earn credit, however, you will need to be clear about why it is relevant!

Avoid the “Me too, I agree” syndrome, as described by this set of guidelines from the University of Wisconsin:

“The me-too post certainly is a frustration in the online environment and does not add any depth to the discussion or learning. In a study by Stodel, Thompson, and MacDonald (2006), “Learners got frustrated with the constant agreements and comments such as ‘Good point’ and ‘I agree’; feeling it made the conversation overly positive and fake.” Therefore be sure to post substantive ideas and avoid the “I agree” posts which just clutter up a discussion board.”
Discussion Board Etiquette, University of Wisconsin

Discussion Board Netiquette

How to Use Blackboard Discussion (Blackboard Help)

You will be evaluated on the level and quality of your participation in weekly discussion forums, using the following rubric (click to enlarge):

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