Now that you have written a winning Discussion Board, you get to respond to your classmates with a reply! This is how you interact with the other students in an online setting. It allows you to learn from one another and interact with the information. It is also designed to sharpen your critical thinking and communication skills.
Actually read the other posts—don’t just skim through each Discussion Board looking for something to reply to! Take your time, read each one until you find something that peaks your interest, something that challenges you, something that makes you stop and think. This is an important aspect of learning: making it interesting!
Read the instructions—just like with the original post, you need to make sure that you are following the guidelines posted by the instructor in the grading rubric! Use the rubric as a checklist for your reply too. This will help you maximize your grade.
Research!!!—yes, even a response requires a research! Start by looking at the sources that the original poster used. This will lead to related content in the online library, as well as cited content in the original article. Think of it as a breadcrumb trail back to the beginning. If you agree with the original poster, you will be able to see where their research came from. If you disagree, you will be able to see their perspective and where they found their facts.
It isn’t your story!—So many times responses are riddled with “I” statements—“I agree” or “I think.” Unless your instructor indicates otherwise, the first person should be avoided. This helps keep the tone of the paper professional and objective.
Stay on topic—once you have found a discussion board that you want to respond to, make sure that you keep your topic and your response on point. Typically you have fewer words to use for the response so use them wisely. There’s no need to restate facts from the original post and don’t rabbit trail off into the unrelated.
Mind your manners—do not bold, italicize, underline, or USE ALL CAPS in your response. While you would commonly use them to make emphasis, in this forum it would be the equivalent to raising your voice or pointing your finger at someone while talking to them. Remember, it is a discussion, so all sides of the argument should be represented. Doing it the right way is important as well as effective.
The discussion board response is the opportunity for the student to interact. Many times, for adult learners, the best education activity comes from simply talking to peers. Take each opportunity in your class to treat this like a conversation and you will find the value and importance of each interaction.
Leslee Gensinger is the Director of Training and Quality Assurance for Liberty University Online. She is on her way to finishing her Master of Arts in Management and Leadership. When she is not working on classwork, she enjoys listening to podcasts, researching training theory, and reading young adult fiction.