Student Handbook

4. Course Learning Activities

4.3. Discussion Forums 

Discussions are a learning cornerstone within the LearnOnline programs and courses, with the exception of our self-study offerings. These forums are a place to engage in discussion with fellow students, instructor(s), and course administrators. Students will notice several standard forums, located within the general course area which will be open throughout the duration of the course. 

Standard forums include:

  • News: This forum will be for general news and announcements. Posts to this forum are automatically emailed to every student, even if the individual student's account preferences are not set to receive email notifications. This helps to ensure important announcements from instructors and course administrators aren’t missed.
  • Welcome: This forum is a place for students to introduce themselves to others in the course.
  • Learning Goals: This forum is where students can share their learning goals for the course. As a class, we will revisit these at the end of the course.
  • Course Questions: This forum is for any general questions related to the course or assignments. Although we strongly encourage shared learning, if students have a private question, they are welcome to contact the instructor directly via email.
  • Café: This is the place for any "off-topic" discussions . . . think of it as the coffee shop where students might meet before and after class. Feel free to use this forum to chat, get to know each other, and share ideas that might not be related to a specific course topic. Keep in mind that the instructor and the course administrators do not monitor this forum; any course-related questions must be posted in the appropriate forum or emailed directly to the instructor.
  • Technical Support: This is the place to share technical challenges, questions, and tips about how to "live" in our online community. The Technical Tips & Tricks resource has several helpful hints for overcoming technical challenges. If students cannot find the answer there, questions can be posted in this forum and one of our team members will do their best to help.

Each discussion forum contains at least one thread we've started to guide discussions. Students should review and adhere to the participation guidelines posted in the Course Syllabus. They may also find it helpful to read the 10 Tips for Completing Successful LearnOnline Discussions for some helpful tips for successful discussions. 

Although these discussions are asynchronous (i.e., not "real time" interactions), it is important to participate regularly in any open threads as specified in your Course Syllabus. Topical discussions are only available when the topic is scheduled.

Remember, our goal is to mimic face-to-face classroom contributions; however, students do not need to respond in a linear, chronological manner. Reading and responding to comments from fellow students and additional prompts from the instructor throughout the duration of the topic will maximize your participation grade. In addition, active and timely participation will help to enrich the learning experience, connect with peers, and stretch thinking on the topic.