Discussion boards are a staple in online learning. In fact, almost every online class at Arizona State University utilizes them. However, if you are new to the online learning environment, you may not be familiar with posting in discussion boards, or being graded based on your contributions.

To best prepare for a future of discussion board conversations, check out an overview of the three most common discussion boards you’ll encounter in your online learning journey.

Hallway Conversations:

This discussion board takes the place of the conversation you might have before or after class with other students and the professor. Here, you can post basic questions about the course (such as layout, content, due dates, etc.) or common questions that you think other students might be able to help you with (technology issues, where to submit assignments, etc.). Professors or TAs will often respond to your questions within a day or so. You’ll also discover that your classmates are extremely helpful and supportive (and may respond to your question before the professor gets to it).

Graded Discussion Boards:

These can range from 100-word responses to detailed reports. In general, the graded discussion boards will ask you to consider the week's materials, form your own opinion about a specific topic you covered and then respond to other students posts on the discussion board. Professors often include a grading rubric to guide your writing process. These assignments are great ways to strengthen your writing and debating skills and allow you to exchange ideas with other students. But remember, these posts are graded, so avoid using slang and make sure to be polite when responding to other posts.

Module/Reading Discussion Boards:

Are there some practice problems you need help with? Is there a section of the assigned text you didn’t understand? Then these discussion boards are the place to go, usually located under the module or week tabs. In these boards, professors encourage you to post specific questions, thoughts or concerns you might have about the material covered in modules or readings. Students also like to post reflections around the material, or links to other articles or media that are relevant to the week’s topics.

Be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to interact with other students and professors on discussion boards, you’ll likely find this a terrific component of online learning!

Written by Emily Sosolik, Alumni, ASU Online Campus

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