The virtual classroom is great at conveying raw information and data, but not so good at fostering interaction and camaraderie among students. The answer to this is the Posting Board, an on-line interactive forum where students post topics, reply to topics, and engage in discussions about that weeks material from the course.
Posting boards are integral from the perspective of a professor listening in and seeing if the students have a grasp of the material. It also is essential in helping many students stay on-track by guiding each other through insights and questions.
But all of that is a moot point, because regardless of the on-line course, using the posting board is mandatory. How much or how little depends entirely on the course and the instructor, but the two years I took on-line courses there were always minimum requirements: usually a student was required to start at least two discussions, and needed to contribute/reply to at least three other discussions.
Sounds easy, right? And it is. If you’ve ever left class and then on the way home thought of something profound to say, this is right up your alley. You have time to craft your arguments and hone your ideas. And you also have the chance to get into a good old fashioned debate.
But there are some ground rules you want to follow in order to make the most of the experience. Don’t just go on the board during the last day and hastily post a bunch of tepid statements – make your voice heard, and make the most of your class.
This Isn’t Facebook, People
Don’t just use basic netiquette, and don’t treat your fellow students like your Twitter followers. In your head, envision yourself inside a classroom. Everything you say reflects on you directly. Having manners is the bare minimum, but one must also display courtesy for the arguments and ideas of your classmates. No doubt someone will rub you the wrong way, but keep personal responses in check – this is no place for a flame war, this is a place to learn. That doesn’t mean one cannot argue against someone’s post, it just means to be civil about it.
This is college. Your instructor can read and review everything you post. And the content and presentation of your posts contributes to your overall grade in the course. Do not using texting-style abbreviations. Know the different between “your” and “you’re.” Do not use emoticons. Present yourself in writing professionally and intelligently. These things make a difference.
Don’t Wait, Post Now
Get in early and start a discussion as soon as you have something valid to say. There is always a flurry of posting near the deadline, with more rushed arguments and even more rushed responses. If you want to get the most out of this, and do it well, you will start quickly and engage other students who are up on the material. This sets a better tone for the class, and makes a better presentation for yourself.