Effective communication online
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Participating in class discussion assignments
In some papers you will be expected to contribute to class forum discussions.
This is how you contribute to a class discussion:
- Read the lecturer's task instructions carefully. Discussions are usually reflections on how the content or theory is relevant for you.
If you find it difficult to make a direct connection between what you are learning and your context, you might have to think hypothetically. For example:
What I might do in that situation is ...
What I would do if that happened to me is....
- Forum discussions are usually open between a range of dates. Be ready to write your contribution a day after the forum opens. Do not wait until the last day.
- Do not write long posts. If the lecturer has not specified a word count, then an appropriate length is between 150 to 200 words.
- Often you will be expected to reply to the posts of your classmates. When replying, first choose a post that does not already have a reply, (and if they all have replies, choose a person to whom you have not replied before).
Note : In your replies you should:
- Thank the person for his or her post.
- Identify an idea that you found interesting in that person’s post, and explain why you like that idea.
- Pose a reflective question (for the whole class, not just for the person who wrote the original post). (If you can’t think of a question, that’s okay, you can make a relevant comment).
Here are some reflection prompts:
Does anyone in this discussion consider that ...?
Can I ask if anyone else has ... ?
What do you all think might happen if ...?
How to disagree respectfully
Sometimes you might need to disagree with a classmate. You should always be as polite as possible. Always have a reason for disagreeing. Here are examples of polite sentence starters that you can use.
How to pick up on a point:
I was intrigued by your comments about X, especially your [description | explanation | observations] about x... In my experience Y...
Your comments about X made me think Y because ...
I was wondering if you had yet considered Y when you said X. The reason I say this is ...
With regard to X, would you mind if I make the following comment? Y...
Pretend to be unsure about agreeing:
Wil (2018) explains how English speakers are polite by pretending to be unsure about agreeing.
I'm not sure I can agree [with] X... . My [focus | preference/s | leaning/s] [is/are | has been] in the direction of Y
I don't think our [opinions | perspectives | viewpoints] are quite [aligned | in sync | together] because Y.
I'm not in step with [this|your] position yet. Instead, my thoughts are Y.
Acknowledge and then disagree
Preface your words with an acknowledgement.
I can see why you might think X, but for me Y.
Your [idea | comment | thinking] is understandable in many respects, but from my perspective Y.
I appreciate your thoughts about X, but I would like to add Y.
Wil. (2018) Five useful ways to disagree politely in English. EF English Live. https://englishlive.ef.com/blog/english-in-the-real-world/five-useful-ways-disagree-politely-english/