Communicating in Online Forums

Many online courses, including this one, have forums, either as a required assignment or to support your learning process. How can you use forums to support your learning in the best way possible?


Forums are a tool for creating collaborative learning relationships. They can also be a low-stakes way to express your developing ideas, and to get feedback on the ways in which you are learning the course material as you work toward larger assignments.
To better understand your instructor’s expectations for discussion forums, look to the instructions and rubric that has been shared with you. The list below contains some general tips for participating in forums.

 Tips for Participating in Forums

  • Develop a clear understanding of the expectations and ground rules for the forum. Review your course outline and talk to your instructor for guidance on how often to post, the type of content to include in each post, and the best way to respond to others’ posts.  If you have any questions, ask your instructor.
  • Make connections between your posts and the content you are learning in the course. A forum post is often an excellent place to engage in critical reflection. Make connections between the course content and the ways that your growing understanding are shaping your present and future practice.
  • Set a regular schedule for posting and commenting on forums and use your course outline for guidance so you don’t miss due dates. This prevents the amount of content from becoming overwhelming, and allows you to develop stronger relationships in the course by regularly engaging with classmates.
  • Include resources in your posts that might be useful to other classmates or your instructor.
  • Use language that is appropriate for an academic environment. Avoid writing in a way that is too informal (such as writing that resembles a text message).
  • Make sure that each post is clearly written and well structured. Take time to clarify the message you want to communicate in your post, and organize your content into clear and concise paragraphs. This is easier for your reader than a long or disorganized post.
  • Respond to others’ posts in a supportive and challenging way. In writing, messages may be unintentionally misinterpreted. Be sure that your responses to others are respectful and have a positive tone, even when you disagree or have an alternative viewpoint.
  • Participate in the community discussion. Read others’ comments before posting, and connect your ideas with what you are hearing from your classmates (10 Netiquette Tips For Online Discussions, 2015).


Online Posting Rubric © Christina Page is licensed under a CC BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike) license

10 Netiquette Tips For Online Discussions. (2015, June 6). ELearning Industry.

Fenwick, T. J. & Parsons James. (2009). The art of evaluation: A resource for educators and trainers. Thompson Educational Pub.

This work, “Communicating Online Using Forums,” is a derivative of “Communicate in Online Forums” by by Marti Alger, Christina Page, and Adam Vincent used under CC BY 4.0. “Use Email in the Online Learning Environment” is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by Assiniboine Community College.


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College Foundations Copyright © 2022 by Assiniboine Community College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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