|How to Participate in Discussions and Groups|
You may be given assignments to participate in the Discussion Board in the Communication section of the course, either to start a message of your own (referred to as "new thread"), reply to a message of your instructor, or reply to a message that has been submitted by a classmate. In the same Communication section, you will find Group Pages. You may also be assigned to a discussion group, and that group will have its own Discussion Board in the "Group Pages" section or by clicking on the "Groups" button on the navigation frame. Follow the guidelines below for participating in either the Discussion Board for the entire class or in the "Groups" Discussion Board.
- Enter the Discussion Board: You will be participating in either the Discussion Board or a Group Pages Discusion Board:
Note: In some course, the navigation buttons on the left side of your screen in your course will list a "Groups" button and also a "Discussion Board" button as a shortcut rather than having to go to the Communication area first.
- If you have been assigned to participate in a forum on the Discussion Board, click on the "Communications" button and then on the "Discussion Board" link.
- If you have been assigned to participate in a group discussion, click on the "Communications" button and then on the "Group Pages" link. When you arrive at the Group Pages area, click on the name of your group and then click on the "Discussion Board" link.
- Respond to messages if so directed: If you have been given instructions to respond to an existing discussion thread, click on the name of that thread, read the message, and click on the "Reply" button and enter your message. Then click on the "Submit" button to post your message on the discussion forum. In the example below, the "Film Instructor" asked the students to respond only to the topics that he posted and then to other students' replies in the same discussion thread. In other classes you may be asked to start your own discussion thread, and other class members will respond to you. Click here to learn how to start a new discussion thread.
- To make sure that you see the discussion thread posted by the instructor before you see the student responses, click the "collapse all" button. When you click the "collapse all" icon, you will see only the discussion threads begun by "Film Instructor":
If you then click the "Show Options" button, the "check box" appears so that you can select the discussion thread comments you want to read first:
If you click the "+" sign in front of the first discussion thread, you will also be able to see who responded to the first topic created by the "Film Instructor":
- Notice above that seven different class members have responded to Film Instructor's discussion thread titled "Preferences." You will also notice that two responses also contain discussion threads, indicated by the "+" sign. If you then click the plus sign in front of the first response posted by "Jennifer Jones," you will expand that discussion thread to see who responded to Jennifer:
Notice that Jennifer responded to "Film Instructor." Then Linda responded to Jennifer's response. They continued their discussion, which is what the "Film Instructor" hopes will happen throughout all the discussion forums in the HUM 160 course.
If you click the select box in front of each response, you can then click the "Collect" button to read all the responses in that discussion thread:
- You will then be able to view the responses of the students and reply to the ones that you want:
- For good results with your messages, keep the following in mind:
- Read any prompts carefully.
A prompt is the assignment to which you are responding. In some cases, the prompt will be posted as the start of a thread in the discussion forum. In others, the prompt will be listed under "Assignments." In either case, read the prompt carefully. Make sure that you understand everything that it requires before you start to respond. If you have questions, ask for a clarification from your instructor, or at least let others know what you are unsure about in your posting.
- Post something that shows thought.
One of the great things about discussion forum communication is that you can think before you respond. Discussion forum prompts are almost always open-ended questions, so even if it seems that the assignment only needs a short answer, assume that you should provide some explanation or narrative about that answer. The challenge is to do this without getting too long-winded!
- Include examples and supportive arguments, not just opinions.
Discussion forums are not just a place to put opinions and feelings. You should also include specific examples, statistics, quotes, and other support materials. On the other hand, you are encouraged to include your opinions too. These will make all of the details more interesting!
- Cite your sources.
It's OK if you borrow ideas from your readings or conversations, but you should attribute these ideas to their source. You can give the official citation of reading material (online or in print) or simply attribute ideas from your classmates. For instance, "In her posting, Shelly said ... That made me wonder about ..."
- Post your response early in the assignment period.
If you wait until the assignment due date, others will not have a chance to respond to what you have said. Your instructor will not have as much time to notice or think about your posting, and a lower score may result. Post your first message early in the assignment period, then return later and respond to others. You'll get more out of the experience and get a better grade.
|Responding to Discussion Threads|
It's called a discussion forum because people are actually supposed to discuss ideas! Clever, huh? That means it will only be useful if you respond to others, not just post your own messages. You will not get the best results or grades from this kind of communication if you don't react to your classmates.
To respond to a message, simply enter the appropriate forum, then click on the subject of a message. Read the message, and if you want to respond, scroll to the bottom and click "Reply." Type your message and "Submit." Here are more hints:
- Don't agree with everything.
"Good idea!," "I agree," or "I think the same thing" are not worthwhile responses. They don't add to the conversation. If you do agree with the poster, then try to add another example or clarify the point more. It's OK to have a different opinion. On the other hand...
- Don't disagree with everything.
You won't impress anyone by being critical of every posting that is made. Try to be generous in interpreting others. Ask clarifying questions if you are not sure you understand.
- Search for balanced replies.
When you respond to others, try to include both positives and negatives about what they have said. Tell them what you like about their ideas or compliment their intentions. Then let them know what part of their response they should consider giving more thought or looking at again.
- Replies should be useful.
A good reply will give everyone following along more to think about. If it is critical, the critique will be specific, clear, and point toward possible improvements. Often, asking more questions is the best sort of reply. A good reply will encourage the poster to respond again. Hopefully, they will look forward to more interactions with you in the future.
- Attack arguments, but don't attack people.
Don't get personal in a discussion forum. At the worst, be generous and assume that it is the person's idea that you don't like, not the person. Ad hominem attacks (against the person) will lose friends and participation points for you. So will racist, sexist, ageist, and other bigoted comments. So will profanity and obscenity. Let's stay civil!
- If you encounter difficulties or the argument gets too hot, let your instructor know.
Your instructor will be checking the forum regularly, but may miss a critical posting. If someone posts something that upsets you, talk to your instructor about it. In some cases, your instructor might help clear up misunderstandings, or if necessary, delete an offensive message from the discourse.
|Group Pages and Projects|
PEER GROUP PROJECTS
In your course, you may be asked to participate in projects with other students. It is possible that you will be placed in online discussion groups where you will be expected to have meaningful dialogue with a small number of other students in the course. It is also possible that you will team with other members of the course to complete an in-depth research project. If you encounter a peer group project assignment in any module you are working through, please review the instructions for the assignment very carefully.
If you discover that your class requires your participation in peer group projects, the following information will be helpful for you to communicate with the other members in your group(s).
If you go to the "Group Pages" link in the "Communicaton" segment of this course, you will find a number of ways to connect with the other members in your specified group(s). These options are available to you if selected for you by your instructor:
- Discussion Board
- Virtual Chat
- File Exchange
- Send E-Mail
To discover more about these options and how to use them, please follow these instructions:
- Click on the "Student Tools" button at the left of your screen.
- Click on the "Student Manual" button.
- Look for "Using Communication Tools" in the Student Manual Contents.
- Click on the "Using Communication Tools" link. When you click on this link, several options become available under the link.
- Scroll down the Student Manual Contents until you see "Group Pages" under the heading "Using Communication Tools."
- Click on the "Group Pages" link.
- Read through the directions on how to use the features in the Group Pages section of the course.
- Contact your instructor if you have any questions about communicating with other members of your group(s) with Group Pages.
Instead of sending e-mail messages to all members of your group(s) at once via Group Pages, you may send e-mail to selected members by following the steps below:
- Click on the "Communication" button located at the left of your screen.
- Click on the "Send E-Mail" button.
- Click on "Send E-Mail to Single/Select Groups."
- Select the group or groups to which you would like to send your e-mail message.
- Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click on the gray "Send E-Mail" button.
- In the new window that appears, enter the subject heading and message to be posted in your message. (As a special note, you may wish to create your message in a word processing program, then copy and paste it into the discussion thread message box. Why? You can conduct a spell check of your work in your word processor whereas you are unable to do so in the Blackboard CourseInfo program. In addition, you can have a copy of your work to re-post if you run into technical difficulties.)
- Once you are finished entering your subject heading and message, click the gray "Send Message" button at the bottom of your screen to send message to the members of your group(s).
- Please refer to your Student Manual located in the "Student Tools" section of the course for more information on or assistance with Sending E-Mail.
- Contact your instructor if you have any questions or comments about sending e-mail.
|Copying and Pasting Text in Discussions|
If you have a long message for the Discussion Board, you may want to write it first in your word processing program, then revise and edit your document so that your ideas are clearly stated and free from errors. Then you can copy the contents of that document and paste them into the message box of the discussion forum. To copy from a word processing document and paste what you have copied into a discussion thread, follow these steps:
- Connect to your course. Open your connection to Internet course and then enter the discussion forum. If you are responding to a person's message, click on the title of the person's message and then click the "Reply" button. Then click in the message box. If you are starting a new message, click the "New Thread" button and then click in the message box.
- Open your word processing program. With your Internet connection to the message box remaining open, click
on the Start button in the lower left corner of the screen and click on Programs and then Microsoft Word or the icon that connects to your word processing program). Then open your document with the text you want to copy and paste into the discussion forum message box. Then while holding down the control key (Ctrl, just below the shift key), press the "A" key. All your text should be selected (highlighted). Then hold down the control key and press "C." (If you prefer, you can click with the right mouse button and then click on "Select All" or click on "Edit" on the Menu bar at the top of your screen and click on "Select All." Then use a similar process with either the right mouse button or the Edit Menu to copy your document.)
- Enter the discussion forum. Then switch to the discussion forum. Make sure you cursor is still blinking in the message box or click in the message box again. Then hold down the control key and while holding it down, press the "V" key. (You can also use your mouse to click in the message box and then click your right mouse button and then click "Paste," or you can click on the "Edit" link at the top of your browser and then click on "Paste.") This will insert the contents of your word processing document into the message box. Then click the "Submit" button at the end of the message box. If you spot any mistakes, click on the "Edit" button at the top of your message, make changes, and then click the "Submit" button.
|Modified Wednesday, December 05, 2007|
|Provided by CEI - The North Carolina Conference of English Instructors|