How to Answer Discussion Boards Politely
Screenshot by Kaitlyn Tan; Smartmockup by Canva

How to Answer Discussion Boards Politely

Article by Jadyne de Jesus

Edited by Regiena Siy

Ah, the discussion board. As we scroll through our Canvas modules and click on ‘Next,’ we inevitably find ourselves lingering on the discussion board entry. The all-too familiar prompt for us to compile our learnings within a certain word limit sets the entire class typing and revising their thoughts to move on with their modules. Unlike other pages, however, the discussion board requires our input, and there are also times when we are asked to reply to the answers of our fellow classmates. Given that there are many people in one class, there are a lot of opinions we can choose to reply to. But with the lack of verbal cues and physical communication to properly express our intended replies, it’s easy to get caught up in misunderstandings and come across as aloof or unkind. In the online setting, it’s definitely less than ideal to limit our thoughts and feelings in a few sentences. With that said, here are a few tips and tricks on how to reply politely to discussion boards! 

1. Read your classmate’s entire message 

Miscommunication can lead to a lot of conflict, especially if it results from misunderstanding what our fellow classmates are trying to say. Try to read in between the lines as well and pay attention to everything from capitalization to punctuation marks. 

2. See it from their point of view

As you read your classmate’s discussion, your perspective becomes the primary influence for how your stance on the matter is formed. Don’t worry if your perspective conflicts with other people’s answers though, because it’s perfectly normal to have a different stance on the matter. Not everyone will have the same point of view on a certain topic, which helps open the floor for more fruitful discussion! To better construct your reply, it’s more helpful to try to see the message from their perspective. With this, it gives you a better glimpse on the workings of their thought process.

3. Start with a warm opening

It doesn’t hurt to start off with a kind message! If there’s any point within the discussion that you found particularly interesting, a small compliment would definitely be appreciated on the other end of the screen. The following line can be  an acknowledgment  of how the person’s insights  is one with sentiments echoed by many, or one that can hold relevance in the applications of the course. Some such examples could be those of: 

 “Hi, John! I found your point especially relevant in our society even in present times,” or maybe along the lines of, 

“Hello, Sadie! While reading your entry, the applications of your point especially stood out to me as it helped me understand the material better.”

4. Convey your thoughts in a mediated manner

Above all else, Canvas is a platform designed for learning, and the optimal way to learn is through a mediated manner. Voicing out your thoughts in the discussion board is to encourage healthy debate or further conversation about a topic, so keep in mind that it’s important to think before you type! If you disagree with the post, you could open with,

“While the point you made raised strong support, there could also be another possibility considered..,” or another statement like,

“I believe that your point could be further expounded in a different manner,” or,

“Instead of what your point contests, another approach could also answer the situation.”

5. End with a reiteration or general summary

One great way to end matters in almost any field is to wrap it up by summarizing all the important points. Gather everything you want to say and cut it down to just the main concepts that you feel are the most important tidbits to retain, then you can leave that as your closing statement.

The virtue of politeness during this pandemic is definitely a trait that shouldn’t be lost among us, as exhibiting politeness online is just as important as it is offline. With online learning bringing about much stress and academic weight, we can all play our part to ease the mood by making our discussion boards as fruitful as possible. The next time you’re asked to write a reply to a discussion board, perhaps these tips can be helpful in your next conversation with a fellow classmate!

Photo by Zen Chung from Pexels

This article is brought to you by the Communications and Publications department of Ateneo Celadon and Elements Magazine on Facebook:

Leave a Reply

Close Menu