Discussing coursework with other learners online can be a great way to share ideas, discussions and knowledge, and explore the material from another angle.
Many paced, online courses will include discussions as part of your grade.
Self-paced courses also offer the opportunity for discussions. Since you won’t necessarily be starting the course at the same time as other students, conversation will be less predictable. We still encourage you to post your own thoughts on the material and respond to others’ posts as you work through the course.
Talking with people online can be unlike any other communications. In fact, a new term – Netiquette – has been coined to describe a recommended code of conduct for online communications.
Like other forms of etiquette, these are guidelines rather than rules. As your course progresses, you’ll get a better sense of the tone and depth of your virtual classroom.
For effective discussions, all participants need to feel welcome and comfortable. Here are our guidelines to help establish a positive online discussion
- Engage frequently.This will get the discussion going and will help the conversation flow. At the same time, don’t be offended if people don’t respond immediately. Many students are unable to participate every day.
- Use emoticons. Exclamation points, smiley faces and other emoticons may not be appropriate in formal communications, but they can be very useful in online discussions to replace the facial expressions and body language you use in face-to-face conversation.
- Don’t leap to conclusions. Without visual and nonverbal cues, it can difficult to interpret the tone of another’s message. Ask for clarification if you are unsure about the intent of a post.
- Keep postings short. Posts should be short. Paragraphs should be four to six sentences long and properly capitalized and punctuated.
- Be open to opposing ideas. Expect that at times your ideas may be challenged, perhaps in ways that aren’t comfortable.
- Phrase opposing views respectfully. If you disagree with a post or statement, take time to re-read your response before posting it.
- Be a good group member. If you are part of a group discussion, inform group members if you're going to be absent from the discussion for any length of time.
Dealing with Issues
If you feel that online behaviour has become disrespectful or confrontational, let your Open Learning Faculty Member know right away. Address issues sooner rather than later.
Please see Thompson Rivers University’s policy on the Responsible Use of Information Technology, which is applicable to online discussions.