Why Students Should Participate In Online Discussions

Posted: November 29, 2023 | Author: Madelyn Bushman | Read Time: 3 minutes

Smiling student looking at laptop

Southern Utah University’s Online community is slightly different from on-campus as students aren’t face-to-face interacting with other students in their classes. Luckily, discussions can help students feel a sense of community and improve their experience with virtually attending school. 

At SUU, online discussions are structured to encourage interaction and engagement, presenting an ideal platform for students to receive valuable feedback, suggestions and even praise from their peers. With an ultimate purpose for students to learn from one another, be better prepared for exams or projects, and explain the course materials in their own words. 

Here are reasons why students should participate in all online discussions.  

Personal connections

In online discussion groups, students read their peers' thoughts on the materials learned and respond with questions or comments.

Collaborating with fellow students back and forth, and furthering the discussion beyond the requirements can create personal connections through the screen. 

Students who are introverted and avoid participating during in-person discussions can have the opportunity to develop social skills and participate without being anxious, as the discussions are online. 

An SUU alumnus Tawny Hammond, explained how participating in online discussions benefitted her while participating in the online MIS program.

“I was concerned I wouldn’t feel connected to people,” said Hammond “But when professors were involved with students, and the students participated in discussions the online experience was great. I was sad when students didn’t participate in those, because I would have enjoyed getting to know them.”

Personal connections can be beneficial for online students as it can be a way for them to create virtual study groups, feel a sense of community or belonging, and prepare for networking once they graduate. 

Deepened Understanding of a topic/concept

With online discussions, students have the opportunity to apply concepts in ways that might not occur to them naturally. This is because they can obtain insights from one another, broadening their knowledge and understanding, evolving from learners to experts on the concepts. 

According to eLearning Industry, active participation in discussions fosters a greater likelihood of retaining acquired knowledge. When students are confused or unsure of their understanding of a concept or idea, seeking out fellow students’ perspectives can serve as a means of clarification and enhanced comprehension. As some concepts may present initial challenges when learning, the support and encouragement from peers can significantly enhance their chances of achieving a deeper understanding.

Critical Thinking Skills

Online discussions often require active student participation with peers’ contributions, fostering critical thinking. This encourages reflection and learning from others. Most discussions include open-ended questions that promote in-depth responses with supported evidence from course content, enhancing students' understanding and personal expression.

Responses from students should offer constructive feedback, acknowledging strengths and suggesting improvements. Encouraging further discussion, students can pose open-ended questions to explore various aspects of the topic and deepen comprehension. 

Online discussions are included in courses to benefit students and their education. It also allows professors to see how their students understand the material and apply it in their own words. 

SUU Online recommends students participate and connect with other students through the course discussion to feel a sense of community.

And perhaps, when you graduate, you will share Hammond’s experience: “When I got to graduation and met my classmates in person, we greeted each other with hugs even though we had never met in person,” she said.

Tags: CurStu Student Life Online

Related Posts