Appreciating the Impact of Discussions: a CDL Student Perspective

By Julie Ogiba, student, Center for Distance Learning

February 28, 2011

The Discussion Forum is an integral part in online learning at SUNY Empire State College. These discussions are generally required of all students for each online course. Posting discussions and responding to them counts as part of the student’s participation grade.

There are several things to remember when taking part in online discussions. The first is to post a thoughtful, well-researched response of your own. This requires you to read all the material for that week. The second thing to remember is that you need to respond to at least two other postings. The third rule ties in with the second -- be polite!

When responding to other students’ postings, remember that the course readings can be analyzed differently. There are many diverse perspectives to be considered -- you can learn so much from your fellow students!

Giving respect to other contributors is just one way to become an effective participant of discussions. Another way to be successful is to read fellow students’ postings, summarize or pick out observations that struck you and ask a question or present a theory related to the topic that will keep the discussion thread going.

While dissent can sometimes be insightful, it is best to use constructive criticism when responding to fellow students. There will be times that something a person says might be taken very personally by you. (It has been my experience that no matter how you challenge that person’s beliefs, they are not going to change just because you verbally berate them!) When two people believe that they are right, the polite thing to do is to “agree to disagree.” It’s always useful to garner a new perspective on an issue as well.

Discussion postings should be submitted per the instructor’s requirements. You should answer any questions or provide your thoughts in a concise, coherent manner. Logging in often to read and respond to fellow classmates is a good idea, since that will provide you with the full benefits of the discussion. Frequently checking the postings will let you know if your professor has decided to pose new questions.

Discussions are a vital part of online learning. By adhering to a few simple rules you will be able to become an efficient contributor, and you will acquire a wealth of knowledge from your classmates and professors.

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