How to Respond to Discussion Questions in the Online Learning Setting

Teacher working on laptop in library.
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You won't see your classmates face-to-face, but discussions are still a part of online classes. Your participation in these online discussions is often a required part of the grading process. Answers should show your understanding and critical thinking about the subject in a structured written format.

1 Preparation to Answer

The record of class discussions remains in the online learning environment, so plan carefully to leave a positive contribution. Read the question thoroughly to ensure that you understand and answer all parts. If the question pertains to an assignment or reading, complete that task first so you can knowledgeably write about it. Review comments left by classmates so that you don't repeat. Build off the other comments to show you read and thought critically about them. Jot down the main idea of your response along with a few key points as a guide.

2 Writing Your Post

Type your response initially in a word processing program so you don't lose or send your work prematurely. Online class discussions are typically informal compared to written papers, but you should use proper grammar and spelling. Start with the main idea of your response, followed by supporting facts. You might pull from class notes, assignments or personal experiences to back your ideas.

For example, in an education class on classroom management, share a behavior-management strategy you used in a practicum experience in a classroom. Refer to the source that gave you the idea for the strategy. Take a hint from your professor by referring to texts, works and lectures for additional supporting material. Make your post easy to read. Use bullet points to organize a list of short ideas, for example. Break the comments into paragraphs if they are longer than a few sentences. Read your response before posting to check for mistakes.

Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience comes from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.