How to Write a Winning Discussion Board
by Leslee Gensinger
You wouldn’t just step into a kitchen to make a meal without a strategy or plan for that meal. The same goes for the Discussion Board assignment. Planning and organization is the key to getting the recipe right. If you’d like to go from good to great with your Discussion Board assignments, follow these few simple steps:
Read the instructions--It’s easy to fall into a mindset that you “know how” to write a Discussion Board and that you don’t need to look at the grading rubric. However, each class can have small variations that could have big impact on your assignment and grade. Use the rubric as a checklist when writing your post to make sure elements are covered. This includes the basics like formatting, grammar and punctuation, deadlines, and length.
Follow the recipe--Each weekly module assignment will have specific items that you should address in the Discussion Board. These parameters help you keep your research and reading from being too broad. The parameters also provide key words and phrases to help you in your search for strong references. If you stick to these topics, you won’t be sidetracked by the mountains of available research.
Use quality ingredients--Did you know that “wiki” stands for “what I know is…?” Wikipedia, while a great read, can be moderated by anyone who has access to the website. This is why we discourage this, and anything like it, as a resource. Instead use the Liberty University online library and other scholarly search engines to find journal articles and research written by authors whose credentials can be verified. This will ensure that your post is made up of the highest quality research available.
Cook for the whole family--Remember, while your discussion board post is a graded assignment for your class, it is also the course interaction for online students. It is the point where we get to “hear” each other’s voice, understand one another’s perspective, and learn from our peers. Make your post such that others will want to read and respond. Using different writing styles to address your audience will bring the information and research to life!
Save the leftovers--If in your research you found articles or information that you could not fit into your assignment, be sure to save it for future posts. This allows you to cut down on time spent with future research and allows you to build on your knowledge, refer back to what you have learned, and create a foundation for future success.
Discussion Board posts are the main course in online learning. They can make or break the learning that you get out of the class. Make sure that you invest in them, use them to develop your writing, critical thinking and analytical skills, and get the most out of your program. If you take the time to really learn from them and your classmates, all the rest is icing on the cake.
Leslee Gensinger is the Director of Training and Quality Assurance for Liberty University Online. In addition to working for LUO for the past 9 years, she is also working on completing her MA in Management and Leadership online with LU. She has learned, the hard way sometimes, that good quality work is rarely done at the last minute.
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