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Webinar Transcripts

Writing and Responding to Discussion Posts

Presented Tuesday, July 12, 2016

View the recording

Last updated 7/20/2016


Visual: The webinar opens with a main pod for the slides and captioning, Q&A, and files pods stacked on the right side of the screen. The slide is titled “Housekeeping” and details how to use the webinar features that Beth discusses.

Audio: BETH: Hello, everyone, and thank you so much for joining us today. Welcome. My name is Beth Nastachowski. I'm the manager of multimedia writing instruction here at the Writing Center and I'm excited for the session today and so glad you could join us. Before I hand over the session to our presenter for today, Christina, I'm going to go over a couple of quick housekeeping notes. So if you are new to webinars at the Writing Center or you haven't been to a webinar in a while, just pay attention to a couple of quick notes here.

So the first is that I am recording this session. So I started a recording. Will be sure to post this recording in our webinar archive. Probably by this evening but it might be tomorrow morning. Just give me a little bit there to get it posted. And you are more than welcome to come back to the webinar archive and take a look at this session. If you would like to review the discussion or if you have to leave for any reason, you are welcome to access it at your convenience.

I'd also like to note that all of our webinars are archived. If you are interested in writing instruction on any other topic, you are welcome to take a look at the archive. We have over 40 recordings. And so you can basically find a webinar on almost any topic in there. I encourage you to kind of just poke around a little bit.

I also wanted to note there is lots of ways to interact with us as well as fellow classmates that are attending the webinar today. I know that Christina has chats she has put together. We used the poll pods at the beginning in the lobby to have you start thinking about today's topic. So I encourage you to interact with us as much as possible throughout the session. That way you can get the most out of the session.

The other thing to note is that we do have links to other information and resources throughout the slides. So those links are active. You can go ahead and click on those and save them for later so you can take a look at them later.

And you can also download the slides that Christina will be using in the files pod. They're listed as the slides file as well as a couple other slides I’m sorry, not slides, files that we have in there. We have a couple other handouts as well. Take a look at that files pod which is at the bottom right hand corner of your screen and you are welcome to download those throughout the session. Although if you think you might want those, go ahead and download those now so you just have them and you don't have to worry about them at the end.

The other thing to note is we also have a Q&A box and we welcome any questions or comments you have throughout the webinar. Myself and my colleague, Claire, will monitor the Q&A box and we would love to hear from you. So do enter questions as soon as you have them. We'll make sure to get you an answer as soon as we can. But I do want to note sometimes at the end of a session we aren't able to get to all of the questions at the very end. So if that is the case, we will make sure to let you know we are stopping questions at that time and have you email us any questions that you have because we are also happy to answer them via email. And I will make sure to display the email, but if you didn't know, the email address for the Writing Center is

All right. Then the last thing to know, if you have technical issues let me know in the Q&A box. I'm happy to help. There also is a help button at the top right hand corner of your screen, and that's the best place to go for any significant technical issues.

All right. So with that, I will hand it over to you, Christina.


Visual: Screen changes to the title of the webinar, “Writing and Responding to Discussion Posts” and the speaker’s information and picture: Christina Lundberg, Writing Instructor, Walden Writing Center.

Audio: CHRISTINA: All right, great. Thank you, Beth. I am Christina Lundberg, a writing instructor here at the Walden Writing Center.

And a little bit of some background about me. I have taught and I have taken several online courses prior to my time at Walden. And the discussion forum of the online classroom has always been my favorite. Probably because of that engagement, that exchange of ideas that happens between students and the instructor. And that social learning component is just so rich.

So now that I'm a Walden writing instructor, I have been with Walden for about one year, and I look at student discussion posts on a regular basis, daily. And then I also did a certificate program at Walden for instructional design.

And so I have been a Walden student myself and I have completed discussion assignments biweekly just like you guys do. So I have seen the side of the students, so I think I have a good perspective to share with you guys today on discussion post assignments and I'm just really, really excited to share the information I have for you guys today.


Visual: The screen changes to the title “After this webinar you will be able to:” and the following learning objectives Christina discusses.

Audio: Okay. So after this webinar, you will be able to articulate the importance of discussion posts at Walden, identify requirements for a post from a writing prompt, identify strengths and weaknesses in sample posts. Just posts in general. And understand how to facilitate discussion when responding to posts, which is very important here.


Visual: The screen changes to a slide titled “Disclaimer” and the following points Christina explains.

Audio: I have a disclaimer for you guys. In this presentation I provide you with information, tips, suggestions, and resources from my experience that I talked about.

However, please know that there is no one right way to write a discussion post. There are several ways to go about it. And the goal here is for you to develop how to best navigate and orchestrate how to realize the discussion post for yourself. To find your own way in.

But I'm going to provide you with a lot of information and my informed perspective, and then you can use that to spring forth and kind of make it your own.


Visual: The screen changes to the title “What Are Discussion Posts?” with a picture of students discussing at a table and the following quotes:

“The Discussion areas offer you a means to communicate with your colleagues and the instructors for this course.” (Walden University, 2013a, “Course Assignments”).

 “The exchange of ideas between colleagues engaged in scholarly inquiry is a key aspect of graduate-level learning, and is a requisite activity in this course”

(Walden University, 2013a, “Course Assignments”).

Audio: So to start, let's kind of dive into what a discussion post is.

The discussion area, it offers you a means to communicate with your colleagues and instructors for the course. So it's kind of neat because it's actually a recorded forum that showcases your thoughts and ideas that are really on your weekly reading and lecture assignments, right. So you really get to showcase what you have learned, what is interesting to you about that weekly learning from the reading and lecture, and then how you are processing and thinking about it and then you get that exposure to how your fellow students are processing and thinking about the weekly assignments and what resonated with them.

The exchange of ideas between your colleagues and engaging in scholarly inquiry is key. So it's a big part of learning, is that social component. Learning from each other. There is, there is a lot of interesting thoughts and ideas that happen that take place, you know, beyond the course readings and a video lecture when you are in dialogue with other people. So definitely I hope you all see the value in that discussion forum area.


Visual: The screen changes to the title “Discussion Posts” and the following bullet points of the purpose of discussion posts that Christina explains.

Audio: It is important to take a look at some other skills that are being developed. So you are developing communication skills online. So primarily in writing, which is huge. Then you're building critical thinking and writing skills as well while you are doing this.

I often think about it as any time you have the opportunity to write publicly and practice that, that is a good thing, because you are just going to get better and better at it.

And then you're exploring ideas and learning from your peers, as I mentioned. And provide practice for academic writing.

So oftentimes the work you put into the discussion posts will give you sort of, you know, the background to complete your weekly assignments, if you have weekly assignments, that are often due on Sunday. So you can use that information. So if you put forth time and work to do a good quality discussion assignment it usually pays off toward the end of the week when you have that weekly assignment due.

Now, if you need to take conversational or a formal tone when you are doing this writing, it is often dependent on your course instructor and what they would like you to do for that particular course.

So some instructors may have more of a casual communication style and be accepting of that, while others have more formal requirements and recommendations.

Oftentimes instructors will post their discussion requirement at the beginning of the course or it will be on the course syllabus. And if in doubt, I encourage you to always reach out to your instructor and get that clarity, that clarification, to check. Some instructors require that you do an intro and conclusion in your discussion posts. Some don't. You know, those kind of discrepancies like that. So just getting that clarification from the instructor is really helpful especially in week one.

When in doubt, I always veer towards more formal than casual. I say that because you are in an academic environment engaging in scholarly work and you have, you know, APA writing that you are practicing in your weekly assignments and it's often required in the discussion posts as well. So I always take a more formal approach when I'm in doubt. And usually you can't go wrong there. But do consult with your instructor.


Visual: The slide changes to the title “The Value of Discussion Posts: A Cool Way to See It!” and the sentence Christina reads aloud.

Audio: Okay. So for me, it is always really helpful to see the value of something and then if I'm going to put forth that energy and time to really give it my all. So here are some cool ways to look at discussion posts to really see their value. Have some good research for you here.

  • According to Gagne, Yekovich and Yekovich; Gredler; and Wittrock (As cited in Reynolds & Nunn, 1997, p. 5) “Cognitive psychologists have demonstrated that when learning is interactive, information is more readily stored and retrieved from storage in long term memory and, therefore, more readily available for application to new situations.”

So that's cool, because rather than just recording information that you have acquired, you are actually processing that information when you are engaging in the social discussion forum and you are more likely through that process to store the information in long term memory. That is important because you can pull the information from your long term memory at times when you need it. So for your application assignments, perhaps on the job when you need to access that information.

Short term memory is where information is often forgotten. So the more you can process information and get it stored in long term memory, the better.


Visual: Slide changes to the title “Another Quote on the Value of Discussion” with the following explanation from Christina.

Audio: Here's another quote of value for discussions.

  • According to King (as cited in Reynolds & Nunn, 1997, p. 5) “‘When students engage in actively processing information in new and personally meaningful ways, they are more likely to remember it and apply it to new situations.’”

So after you do your weekly reading and you find information that is interesting to you, and then if you can process it and relate it to yourself personally and your experience, engage with it on that way, you're going to have more of a meaningful connection to that information and are more likely to store it in your long term memory as well, which is a good thing.


Visual: The slide changes with the quote Christina reads below and the image of fruits and vegetables on a table.

Audio: And here is my last quote for you.

  • According to Mayer (As cited in Reynolds & Nunn, 1997, p. 5) when engaging in discussion assignments, students are “sense makers.”

And so I love that. I've got a picture for you of, you know, a disarray of fruits and vegetables and it's like it has just been thrown up in the air. And sometimes you are presented with entirely new information in one week and you need to make sense of that information and process it. And so that discussion first post is that key area where you can do that and you can pull the information that resonates with you and then you are making sense of it and processing that information and really trying to understand it in a new way. So I love that way to look at it, when you dive into a discussion post you are a "sense maker."

Visual: The slide changes to the title “A Note About Time” and the following points:

  • Courses are fast-paced and often contain weekly discussion assignments that are in two parts and are due each week:
  1. an initial discussion post assignment and
  2. discussion response post assignments
    • Schedule deadlines
    • Develop time-saving habits.

Audio: A note about time.

So discussion posts are often biweekly. So the first one due on Wednesday, oftentimes it's midnight Eastern time. And then there are response posts. Usually it's a minimum of two response posts, this differs per course, that are up and due that Sunday midnight.

So that is, you know, potentially a minimum of three assignments weekly. And so to maintain good quality posts, a minimum of three, oftentimes it's more than three, does take time. It takes a commitment.

So it's important to kind of take a look at how to tackle these. I have a best practice for you. And then I will ask for you guys to share some best practices in regards to saving time and still producing good quality discussion post assignments, if you have had experience in your past classes, things that have really worked for you.


Visual: The slide changes to the title “What Are Some Time Saving Habits and Tips?” with the image of a table with a table setting and the following tips:

  • Presenter Tip Allow time for reading your weekly course material (required readings, optional readings)
  •  Presenter Tip * Read your discussion assignment prompt first. * Then engage in your weekly course reading. (Let your initial discussion prompt assignment be your initial guide).

Audio: So for me, I think about that first discussion post that is due often on Wednesday midnight as a time to really dive in to the discussion post and learning.

And so I have a picture here. It is like coming to the table. So instead of grabbing your food and running out the door and doing a quick discussion post, initial quick discussion post, just sitting down at the table and having a full meal. And that is how I think about it.

So I would try to do that on Monday and just sit down and have a full meal and do that initial discussion post and really give it my all. Chances are then, you know, you're going to be full, you're going to be nourished, and that will sustain you as you continue on for the rest of the week. So putting that time and energy in the forefront of the week.

So that's my recommendation. So I say read your discussion assignment prompt first, too.

So on Monday night I sit down. And the very first thing I do is instead of doing all the course reading and viewing my lecture, I actually suggest reading your discussion assignment first and then letting that discussion assignment guide your reading, when you dive into your reading and your lecture. And so then you are really attune to pulling pieces and parts that you need to complete that first discussion post assignment. That's worked really well for me.


Visual: The webinar layout changes to open a chat box, which students use to enter their tips, which Christina comments on. The following question is displayed on the slides: “What are some tips or best practices that have worked for you in your classes in regards to managing the time it takes each week to write quality discussion posts?”

Audio: So a question for you to answer in the chat box. This is a time for you guys to share. Do you have any good best practices that have worked for you for saving time and still writing good quality discussion posts? Especially that first one.

Looks like multiple people are typing. Let's give you a minute. [Pause]

Oh, I love that, Patricia: I turn the discussion prompt into a checklist so I don't skip anything.

Patricia, you and I are on the same wavelength. I think you're going to find that the material I have to come is really going to resonate with you.

Post a day earlier. Excellent.

Working on Wednesday to post writing. Okay, good.

Write it in words so you can read and edit more easily. Vicky, I love that, yes. Writing it in words so then you can catch your mistakes.

Learning how to create a workable outline helps. Faith, I think that is really good. A workable outline.

Melinda. I like to read the articles, reread instructions and write the questions with spaces in between. I think that's fantastic.

Discipline on Monday reading, and from Tuesday, writing. Okay, that sounds wonderful.

I take multiple notes referencing to the discussion questions from the reading, multiple notes. Patricia, that's great, because I bet when you do it you are really processing and taking in the information. Hopefully, too, you are responding to your notes and providing your analysis as to what you think of the notes you are taking and how that material really resonates with you. That is an active reading technique.

Work a week in advance. Fantastic.

Okay. Just tons of stuff is coming in. You guys are awesome. Wonderful. We have documenting things on the calendar, scheduling outside activities to align with deadlines. This is just great.

I usually bullet point the discussion requirement and then write my discussion post on Monday. Have a friend read over it. Jody, that is excellent. Get another set of eyes on it is wonderful.

And then underlining important points.

This is great. You guys, we are on the same page. You have so many great ideas and best practices. This is just wonderful. It's a joy to see. Jot down key information, bullet form. Wonderful. Good.

Okay, you are guys are on the right track.

I think that we will wind down now with your comments. Just doing great. I'm going to continue on with the presentation in respect to time. But I think that you're going to find what I present is going to really resonate with where you are coming from, which is just great. So well done.


Visual: The chat box is closed, and the slide changes to the title “Creating a Discussion Post Best Practice: Pre-work” and the following tips that Christina explains.

Audio: So writing a discussion post. Here's a bit of some pre work that I do and it looks like a lot of you guys are doing this too.

Carefully read the discussion prompt at the start of the week. Again, as I told you guys, that's a best practice that I do to let it inform my reading and, you know, the lecture that you study that week.

And then reviewing the rubric is important because that is how you will be graded. So I actually, when I was doing my program, the certificate program at Walden, my first post I did, I failed to review the rubric. And I had found that the rubric asked me to include research. And it actually said I needed a minimum of like three to five sources from the week. And then the rubric, which I found out later, said that I also needed two outside sources. And I had failed to read that. And so you can imagine, after reviewing the rubric that first week, you know, I didn't miss a beat weeks two and on. But reviewing the rubric ahead of time does make a pretty big difference because that is how you're going to be graded.

And then seeking clarification on any part that may seem confusing. Just reach out to your instructor, ask away. You know, there is no question that is not valid. So, highly encourage that. Doing that pre work can save you a lot of time.

Visual: The slide changes to the title “The Many Ways” and the following points:

  • Presenter Tip Allow time for reading your weekly course material (required readings, optional readings)
  •  Presenter Tip * Read your discussion assignment prompt first. * Then engage in your weekly course reading. (Let your initial discussion prompt assignment be your initial guide).

= The READ Method = Reach, Evaluate, Analyze, and Decide

Audio: And then there are so some ways to tackle these, you know, discussion assignments. Oftentimes seeing someone else's method can help inform your own. And so as I was preparing this presentation for you, I was thinking about how I was really successful in the posts I have done and what made them successful, what I particularly really did to ensure a good quality post.

And I thought, well, you know, I actually outlined a method. So I termed it the READ method. And it's to Reach, Evaluate, Analyze and Decide. So I will take you through my READ method and hopefully some things will resonate with you.


Visual: The slide changes to the title “The READ Method in Conjunction with the Writing Process: Creating a Discussion Post” and the following listed in a timeline:

  • Read assignment prompt
  • Outline/make “to do” list
  • Read with “to do” list in mind
  • Prewriting
  • Drafting

A separate box highlights the “Life Cycle of a Webinar” recording as an additional resource.

Audio: So the READ method in conjunction with the writing process looks like this.

So first you read the assignment prompt. And then outline and make a to do list. Several of you guys have written in the chat box you made a list or wrote out bullet pointed items. That is fantastic. That's the same type of thing here. Making this to do list.

And read with the to do list in mind to save time. That is what I'm suggesting here with my method. And then do your pre writing. And then do your drafting.


Visual: The slide changes to the title “Beginning the READ Method”, a picture of a table with a meal, the word “Reach”, and the following explanation Christina gives.

Audio: Okay. So beginning the READ method. So, reaching. As you read, and this is reading your discussion assignment, reach for the action your assignment asks you to take. So you are looking for those action words. Those are your verbs. And they often prompt you to do something. Then look for those key words. Then from this you make a to do list.

So I have my picture here. You know, you have a coffee and some food on the table. If you are sitting there, you will probably reach for items that you really like that are really important to start your day. And so on this discussion assignment you want to really reach for these key components, these key parts.


Visual: The slide changes to the title “Example Assignment Prompt (Showing Reach) and the prompt Christina reads (any words in green on the slides are in bold).

Audio: So let's look at an assignment prompt together and see what this looks like.

I have done the work for us. And I have highlighted in green, or just marked in green, those action words that I look for and the key words that tell me and prompt me what I'm going to do, what I need to do.

So I will read this to you guys and follow along with me.

“Read this week's readings and lecture.” So I know that the discussion assignment comes from the readings and lecture. “Reflect on your own experiences.” So I will be reflecting. This is allowing me to bring in my personal experiences, which is great. “And describe one best experience and one worst experience where you choose to communicate in an electronic computer communication channel rather than a physical presence or written printed channel.”

So now I'm going to slow this down because I want to know exactly what is the sentence asking me to do. So describe one best experience and one worst experience. So that is a two part topic right there. A best and a worst experience. I'm going to be tackling two different personal experiences. And then where those experiences, where I chose to communicate in an electronic computer channel. So versus a physical presence or a written channel. So I'm really looking at what makes for this electronic computer communication. What is particular about this type communication versus all others. And I bet that is where my course readings, I bet that is what they are about. So that is where my research is going to come into play.

Okay. So now I know I have a two part topic. I know what my research is going to be on.

And then I see that I have got three question prompts coming. “Why did you choose to communicate electronically rather than in person.” And that's going to apply to my topic one, which will be my best experience. And it's going to apply to my topic two, my worst experience. So I'm going to have to address that for both of my topics up there, because I have a two part topic here.

Then “Why was the experience positive or negative?” And so I will have to address the positive for my first topic and the negative for my second.

And then “How did the components and processes of communication apply to the electronic computer channel?” I will have to tackle that one for both as well.

So you can see I have got to do list forming right here. It says, “Be sure to support your ideas by connecting them to the week's Learning Resources and something you have read, heard, seen or experienced.” So, that is a prompt to say that I can do some outside related research as well and can bring in my personal experience.

Then this is where, after I have done a really careful read here and broken it down, I would probably review the rubric and take a look at rubric requirements as well.


Visual: The slide title is “To Do List/Outline” with the following list:

  • What is the topic? Communicating in an Electronic/Computer Channel (Rather Than a Physical Presence or Written Printed Channel)
  • What do I need to do? Research: The benefits of electronic/computer channels vs. face to face and pen and paper channels
  • How should I organize the specific information I need? Two Main Parts (1. Positive exp. 2. Negative exp)
  • 3 specifics components to address for each:
  1. A scenario I chose electronic/computer communication
  2. Why scenario was negative
  3. How components of communication apply to electronic computer channel

Audio: And here I have my to do list outline for you so you can see what it would look like.

And I would put this at the top of my Microsoft Word page where I will begin my discussion assignment. So I have it clearly laid out for me right there on the page in the same place. Then I don't have to involve myself in any extraneous processing which means I have to switch gears from looking at one document somewhere else to another document in another place. I have it all in one area. All in my Microsoft Word page.


Visual: The slide changes to the title “Evaluate” and a picture of a chocolate cake, with the following points:

  • Importance of evaluating:
    • Assignment = A Recipe
    • Assignment specifics = Ingredients
  • Evaluate your to do list and compare it with your assignment. Have you missed anything?

Audio: And then I'm going to evaluate.

So the importance of evaluating. So this is my to do list is like a recipe. You can see right here. [Christina shows the to-do list, then goes back to the Evaluate slide.] Like actually a recipe. And then the specifics, the requirements, are the ingredients that I need. I think this is a really cool way to view your assignment, is that it is a recipe for you to follow. Then you have certain ingredients that it asks you to use.

I think about if I'm baking like this chocolate cake, this picture of this delicious chocolate cake up here. And if I leave out a key ingredient, like if I leave out salt it wouldn't taste good. It will be really bland. If I leave out baking powder and it calls for baking powder, it will be really flat.


And it won't have that nice, fluffy texture.

Same if I leave out a component in my discussion assignment. It's going to be incomplete. It's not going to be a real, live assignment. It's not going to be the end goal that the assignment is telling me to do and that I'm going to be evaluated on.

Also if I veer off track and instead of, to use my analogy, instead of making a chocolate cake, if I make a strawberry cake, you know, still a cake but strawberry, and veer off topic, then at the end when I'm evaluated with my fellow students, say we are in a baking contest, everybody else has great chocolate cakes, I have strawberry, I would probably be disqualified because I didn't follow the directions.

So same with the writing assignment for discussion. If I choose kind of to go in a different way, you know, I might be asked to redo the assignment type of a thing. So I recommend to follow those assignments like, you know, to a T. That is your guide. And it is incredibly important.


Visual: The slide’s title changes to “Showing Evaluate: To Do List Ex.” With the following:


  • Post by Day 3 a description of one best experience and one worst experience where you chose to communicate in an electronic/computer communication channel rather than a physical presence or written/printed channel. Be sure to include answers to the following questions:…

To Do List

  • (X) Part I and Part II personal examples
  • (X) Research positives and negatives of communicating in electronic/computer communication channels vs, verbal and pen and paper
  • (X) 2 components for each
  • (X) Missed last component. Should be 3.
  • (X) …..


Audio: So then I even tackle this on another level. I am going to evaluate my to do list, recipe, my ingredients, with the actual assignment. Again, to make sure that I don't miss anything. It might seem, wow, this is an extra step. Or my goodness, this is really an elongated analytical process, but you might find that to do it a couple times is incredibly helpful because as you are doing it you might start to think about new ways that you can tackle the different prompts that the assignment is asking you to do. So the more time that you spend analyzing can actually be beneficial to you.

Oh, and I do want to point out that here you can see I have made an intentional mistake. When I look at my to do list and compare it with my assignment, towards the bottom on the right here, see if I can get my pointer right here ... I say two components for each of my two part topic. When I look at my assignment, I needed three. Three components.

And so then I can mark, whoops, missed last component. Should be three. And catching that right there would be incredibly important. So that evaluate stage is good.


Visual: The slide’s title changes to “Analyze” With the following:


  • Analyze your to do list. Make connections with your assigned reading for the week. Do your assigned reading with your to do list at the forefront of your mind. This is the point when I start reading. Have you read anything in the past that relates to your action items? Are there any action items that you would like to know more about and research a bit further?

Showing Analyze Ex.: To Do List Analysis

  • I. Action verb (Why I chose to communicate electronically in this scenario)
    • a. Course Research…
    • b. Course Research …
    • c. My own related research
    • d. What I make of all this.
  • II. Action verb (Why experience was negative)
    • a. Course Research…
    • b. Course Research …
    • c. My own related research
    • d. What I make of all this.
  •  III. Action verb (How components/processes of communication apply to electronic/computer channel?)
    • a. Course Research…
    • b. Course Research …
    • c. My own related research
    • d. What I make of all this.


Audio: Okay. And then I'm going to analyze.

So analyze your to do list. Make connections with your assigned reading for the week. Do your assigned reading with your to do list at the forefront. So this is the point when I start reading. If you can believe it.

This is where I dive into my reading and my lecture. But my mind is so well attuned and prepped to pull out the important elements, the ingredients that I need, that my reading can be incredibly efficient then. That's where I see the time saving happening for me.

And then, you know, I mark some places I want to go back to after I have completed my discussion assignment and maybe read later. Or I can take more time and really, you know, read more and more and more. But at first I read for efficiency.


Visual: The slide changes to the title “Decide” and the following points:

  • Decide what form you want your discussion post to take? Look to your rubric. Consult with your instructor. Decide if you want your document to take a more formal short essay form with an introductory paragraph, body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph? Or would you like your discussion post to take a more casual form consisting of just paragraphs. In both cases you will want to follow your to do list. From this decision compose and realize your document.
  • From to do list create a formal outline.  

Audio: And then decide. So here comes, you know, the great part where you as the writer, you know, are making decisions. You decide what form you want your discussion post to take.

So look to your rubric. Consult with your instructor. Decide if you want your document to be more formal, like a formal short essay with an intro paragraph, body paragraph, and concluding paragraph. Or if you would like it to be more casual and just consist of body paragraphs. In both cases you will still want to follow that to do list. From this decision compose and realize your document and create a formal outline.


Visual: The slide’s title changes to “Showing Decide: Discussion Post Ex. Outline” and the following outline:

Intro: Introduce the topic, engage readers, point to thesis

Thesis: Overall take after analyzing and processing pros and cons of electronic computer communication

Part I (Positive Scenario)

  • A scenario I chose electronic/computer communication
  • Why scenario was positive
  • How components of communication apply to electronic computer channel

Part II (Negative Scenario)

  • A scenario I chose electronic/computer communication
  • Why scenario was negative
  • How components of communication apply to electronic computer channel

Conclusion: Refer back to thesis, summary of main points, leave readers with a lasting impression

Audio: Here it would be an example of a formal outline here showing the decisions that I make.

I tend to always, like I said, go with the formal approach. The reason being it shows a professionalism. And again, to show the writing practice. So if an instructor doesn't require an introduction but it is okay if I do so and I'm okay with my word count, I'm probably going to put one in because it can kind of streamline all of my thoughts and ideas together in a pre note practice providing a nice thesis in there. And it really can't hurt. It can only, you know, help my practice, my writing practice.

So I will always take that route. But of course this is your decision given the means that you need to meet that instructor's expectations and your rubric.

Also if you have, I want to mention if you do have a word count, perhaps it's small like 250 300 words and you are concerned with keeping your post really efficient and condensed, you know, and you don't need an intro and conclusion, that is where you might cut. And you know, just take real nice body paragraphs, try to execute those to the best of your ability. That's a way to save some, you know, wording there.

Also writing for efficiency. Trying not to be wordy. Writing for the social sciences and APA is all about quality versus quantity. So if you can say the same thing in one sentence that you've said in three to four sentences, it's better to go with that one sentence. So you can also condense in that way.

Visual: The slide changes to the title “Now Draft” and the following points:

  • Decide if you want to write a formal introduction and conclusion. Look to your rubric, instructor specifications, and word count (to judge development length).  
  • Turn your “formal outline” into level 1 headings and use the MEAL plan and create body paragraphs
  • Maintain a scholarly, respectful tone
  • Cite sources and include references

Audio: And now you are drafting.

So you are deciding if you want to write that formal introduction and conclusion. Follow the Meal plan. I think it's a great method. That's where you have your main idea evidence, analysis, leadout (phonetic), wrap up line and those body paragraphs.

We have great resources on the Meal plan and there's links here in the slide if you want to find out more if you don't know about it.

Then level one headings is something that I recommend. Those mark each section. And I'm going to show you. I actually turn the assignment specifications, those ingredients, into level one headings to create a visual organization that can be really nice when you have so many discussion posts posted in a forum and your eyes might be getting tired reading it all. To have level one headings marking each of your sections can look really nice and be easy on the eye, help keep your writing organized.

Then always maintain a scholarly and respectful tone. You are entering into a discussion with your fellow classmates, so it's important to treat people with respect and dignity and to cite your sources and include references, which is important with scholarly writing. Any time you can practice that is a good thing.


Visual: The slide changes to say “See Outline Realized as a Draft Prompt Example in Microsoft Word”, and then the webinar layout changes to show the sample draft, which can be downloaded from the webinar recording’s Files pod.

Audio: So let's take a look. I've got a draft to show you.

Okay. So here visually I just want you to take a look at how I would go about realizing a draft. This would be my initial discussion post draft here.

And what I have is I have the formal approach to show you because you could always condense or break it down if you need to. And I've got a title. You can see it looks like a mini essay. I often will tackle it that way. Again, to show professionalism and showcase my writing skills, to practice what I know.

And I have just written out for you guys, you know, an introductory paragraph, what you know is often composed in an introductory paragraph and giving you some good guidelines in terms of writing these posts in general.

So I have an intro here. Then these bolded areas. Let's see if I can get my there we go. The bolded areas are those level one headings I was telling you about.

And I actually just took those right from my assignment specifications and you can see that I part one I have a two part topic, so my part one is my topic one. That showcases to the reader that I'm tackling part one of my two part topic. And then I have a description of my best experience choosing electronic computer channel to communicate. That is right from the assignment. You can change the wording around a little bit if you want to, but I really wanted to show you that you can take those assignment specifications and use those as level one headings.

Then right under it I have my paragraph that would address that subtopic here. And it is really well organized. Hopefully you can get that visual experience where each section is marked so the reader knows what to expect and it is easy on the eye.

If you want to have more information about level one headings I have a link for you here in the bubble to the right and I also have a link to the meal plan that I mentioned earlier, too.

So we come down here. I have a special note for you here in part one. This would be my second prompt. Why I chose to communicate electronically rather than in person or on paper.

And I say within this section you may want to come up with an evidence guideline for yourself. Then you may want to extend beyond weekly readings and video lectures and delve into topic related research on your own via the Walden Library and find additional research. This would be to go above and beyond. If your rubric doesn't require it, you may want to go above and beyond anyway.

And so what I started to do is I would try to give myself I tackle the certain amount of readings that I needed to do that week. Let's say I needed like, you know, three citations for my reading. It was documented in my rubric. So I make sure I did the three citations, tried to vary them, the different sources so I didn't have one citation on one source but three different citations from three different weekly readings. And then I would try to do three of my own for each body paragraph. So I try to do three here, three here, and three here of outside research citations.

And that turned out to work really well for me. And then I had a nice balance. If that gets to be too long, maybe then you would break it down to one outside source or something like that. But that is a way for you to sort of extend and go above and beyond if your assignment allows you to do so.

And then here I have rinse (phonetic) and repeat. This assignment has two parts. Follow the same formula exactly for part two because that is what the assignment asks me to do.

So for part two I would explore this description, only it would be a worst case scenario, a negative scenario. I would also do why I chose to communicate electronically in this negative experience for my part two. And I would do why the experience was negative for my part two.

And then here is the conclusion. And I walk you through some best practices of writing a conclusion.

Word count. So a little note again on word count. So this one is 465 words. So an average one page, single spaced is 500 words. Double spaced is 250 words. So again, if you have a word count, you want to manage efficiency, efficient writing, and make sure that you, you know, meet all your assignment expectations and you do so in a thoughtful way following the writing process. It this takes time sometimes to tackle that efficiency. The more you do it, the more you focus on condensing, concision, the better and better that you get at doing it. So be encouraged there if you are ever worried about word count or being efficient.

Okay, let's go back to the slide deck.


Visual: Slide changes to the title “Creating a Discussion Post: Finalizing” and the following points:

Read through your post again

  • Did you answer assignment questions?
  • Did you meet each requirement?
  • Do the ideas connect logically?

Check grammar and typos

  • Use MS Word’s spelling / grammar check or Grammarly

Audio: Great. Now, I wanted to see ... this is where after I have a final draft I would read through my post. And some of you guys said that you have other people take a look at it, get a fresh set of eyes. Maybe some of you send your writing to the Writing Center for us to take a look at and give you instructional feedback. These are all really great things because you are able to kind of unlock yourself from being the writer and being so connected to your piece, and then allow yourself to let your work go and have somebody else take a look at it and then help you see it through a reader's perspective which can be very helpful. They often say that revision is the key to good writing. So I highly encourage you to do that.

Then you can see if you answer all the assignment questions, met each requirement, did your ideas connect logically. Check your grammar, your typos. You can use Grammarly, really dive into good quality writing practice there, showcase your professionalism.


Visual: The slide changes to the title “Pause for questions” and an image of raised hands.

Audio: So here I would like to pause. Are there any questions?

Beth: Hi, Christina. Yeah, we've had some great questions so far. One of the questions was about thinking about revising, sort of improving discussion posts. How can students have the Writing Center read over their post? That was one of the questions.

Christina: Oh, that's a great question. So you will want to go to the Writing Center website and Beth and Claire can put it in the chat box, the link to that if you like, and you will go to MyPath. They can give you the link to that as well. You will schedule an appointment. It is a really user friendly system. It walks you right through the system on our website. You schedule an appointment with one of us.

Then we will review your paper in one to two days. So you do want to leave yourself enough time for us to take a look. And we really dive in to reviewing your paper. So we really look at it with active reading skills I'm sort of practicing with you guys today, and really take the time to give you good, quality instructional feedback that you can make decisions with and apply and revise to your draft.

But I highly encourage you guys to do that. We love to review your writing, so please do.

Are there more questions?

Beth: I was going to follow up to that. Is it okay if students submit past discussion posts? Like maybe they can't submit the discussion post in time for the deadline, but can they submit it after they posted the post?

Christina: That's a great question. Absolutely, yes. You can. And I encourage you to do that as well because with writing often just looking at any piece, any draft, can help inform the writing that you do you in the future. So it is definitely worth your time to submit a past document that is not due because you can apply the feedback to future writing. So please do, yes.

Any more questions?

Beth: Yeah. We had a question about, you know, how to kind of deal with both, you know, making sure that you can have your own personal writing style even through a discussion post which can be, you know, pretty short sometimes. Do you have any suggestions for how students can kind of balance both the word count and their own sort of style?

Christina: That's a great question. That can be particular to each individual. So I would really the best thing would be to see the student's writing and to see what is going on. But in general, what you can do is having a form, so having a nice format with body paragraph is just standard and key.

And then your own personalized wording. You can, you know, it actually will come naturally to you. But if you think about who your readers are, and I often suggest your readers are other scholars. So your fellow students are scholars and your instructor is a scholar, and you are participating in the academic conversation. So your approach, then, is you will want to speak in a way you would speak to them as, you know, scholars.

So you will still have a personal style that will come through just because of who you are. So you will find that, for example, if I write about a topic, viewing my readers as scholars and Beth is doing the same, she still will choose different wording than I would just based on how we communicate and who we are. So you can just naturally let yourself do that. Then during the revision process you can, again, revise your words and think, okay, am I being as efficient and clear as possible.

You can still keep your style while do you that. And if you need help doing that, please submit to the Writing Center. We can help you sort of sift that out. But the key is really to think about your readers and to think about who you're communicating to and if those people are going to receive your thoughts and ideas in a good way. Like the way that you want them to be received. You know. You really want to show you know what you are talking about and that you, too, are a scholar, you know, studying the information that you are studying.

So that's kind of why I stress that taking a formal approach. I think about it like going to a wedding, too. So if you to a wedding you often dress up for the occasion. But you will still wear, you know, the clothes you would wear. You'd wear your dressy clothes. And then you know, versus just going in casual to a wedding. Because you are still rising to the occasion in academia, and you're showcasing that same type of respect for your reader.

So I hope that answers the question.

Beth: Yeah, that's fantastic. Thanks so much, Christina. Are you okay with one more question here? This is a pretty good one.

Christina: Of course, yeah, please.

Beth: Awesome. So this question: What if your discussion instruction seems overwhelming and you can't find a place to start? Do you have any suggestions for how to just find the beginning?

Christina: Oh yeah, I love that question. I can definitely relate to that especially when it's all on completely new information that I have never seen before.

The first thing to do is look for those verbs, those action words. And even if you don't understand the content, try to break down the assignment like I did on the slides by action words. And in this case, I would even go with that recipe formula but I would use it really strictly. I would actually be documenting step one, step two, step three, step four and try to write almost a chronology for myself.

And I would write out the discussion assignment in the step by step formula and enumerations, using those action verbs, so at least I can see that there are action verbs directing me to do something. And then I would tackle each one step by step.

And I would probably circle three that I do actually understand. Circle the three and say, okay, I have these. But now it's step one and it's probably step 6 that I don't really get. And that is when I reach out to the instructor to ask specifically what I don't understand. So creating the recipe formula for yourself can help you hone in on exactly the parts that you don't understand. Then your instructor can give you that specific feedback that you need. That can be really helpful.

Also, looking up any terms that you don't understand. And another thing that I have done is I will look to see I will use the social learning forum of the discussion board and look to see what some of my other peers are writing and how they are finding a way into the assignment. And oftentimes just getting exposure to how other people are tackling it will help me get sort of that ah ha moment to say, I didn't see it like that and then find my own way into the material. That can also help.

Beth: Your part about finding your own way into the assignment, that's great. Thank you. I think that is all we have for right now.

Christina: Great, okay. Thank you. We'll continue on. Those are great questions. Really happy to answer those.


Visual: The slide titles changes to “Common Problem: Too Long”

  • Write it all out, and then cut away.
    • What can you consolidate or remove as unnecessary?
  • Look for signs of wordiness.
    • “There is” and “There are”
    • “Due to the fact that”
    • Adjectives and adverbs (“very”, “really”, etc.)
    • Direct quotes
  • Adjust your thesis so it is narrower in scope.

Audio: So some of you guys in your questions tackled this common problem. Too long. Your discussion post is too long. And I'm a victim of that myself. I always write too much. But I have been told throughout the many years that that's a good thing and to have too much is nice because then you can really cut.

And if you have trouble cutting your assignment, that is where another set of eyes can help. Also reading it aloud. Recording yourself while reading and then listening to the recording a couple days later. So, you are kind of disengaged as a writer and hear yourself more as a reader. That can help you be more critical and to catch maybe a point you said in three sentences and bring you to that awareness of seeing it. Whereas when you write it you don't actually know that you wrote it in three sentences. When you go back you can easily trim it to one. So just really focusing and having your intention be on cutting, keeping it short, concise, and getting your mind attuned to the practice. It takes time. I encourage people to be easy on themselves and patient. But it will come. The more you do it.

Also, you can look for wordiness. Terms like "there is, there are" Those usually can be omitted from a sentence. So instead of saying like: There are many delicious coffee drinks out in the world, I could say take the words out to say a statement. It will actually make it more clear: The delicious coffee drinks out in the world soothe my soul or fill me with joy.

Then I'm actually having a more descriptive sentence anyway and taking out "there are."

You may say I added words to that sentence, so perhaps I should now try to condense. So, there are many delicious coffee drinks in the world. The delicious coffee drinks in the world…oh, “Delicious coffee drinks reside in the world. Period.”


Cut my words! So just the more you practice. It is almost like a word puzzle.

Also, adjectives and adverbs. Words like "very" and "really" are often called emphasis words. APA suggests you just take those right out. And when you take them out of a sentence, the sentence can read more direct and clear without them. So conversationally we use those words a lot, but in writing they don't really have any value. They just kind of emphasize in an extra way. And so just take them out.

So for example: I really like coffee. I like coffee.

And that second one actually kind of sounds more assured. I'm not trying to convince the reader that I really like coffee, or listener in our case. I just like coffee, period. So hopefully you can see that!

You can adjust your thesis, narrow your scope. So Instead of saying something like: There are many pros and cons in regards to communicating electronically on a computer forum, you can really narrow that and say specifically overall what a pro and what a con is and kind of hone in on specific themes and narrow your focus down.


Visual: The slide changes to the title “Responding to a Post: Prewriting” and the following points:

Double-check the assignment

  • Number of posts to respond to, deadline, etc.

Read your peers’ posts

  • Note ideas that you find interesting, challenging, or surprising
  • Consider how these ideas relate to your reading
    • Note discrepancies
  • Select two (or more) posts to respond to

Audio: Okay. Now, responding to discussion posts. The information that I have tackled has really been up to this point on that discussion post number one, that first initial one.

Then now the part two would be your responses to other people. That is usually comes later in the week after you have done your first discussion post.

You can use that first discussion post to inform your responses to your fellow classmates, to other students, and that's usually due towards the end of the week.

So you want to check your assignment to see how many responses you need to do for that week to meet the minimum requirement. Then decide and manage your time. If you want to go above and beyond, look at your grading rubric. Really, again, you want to focus on quality.

So I have seen in some of my classes at Walden that students will start really short and have short responses to students. And then as the week goes on, they look at the grading rubric they see those responses should be a little bit more thorough and in depth as well.

So how to do that is to read your fellow peers' piece and look to see what is interesting to you. Anything that is challenging or surprising, things that you agree with or disagree with, and you know, think about how their post relates to your post. And perhaps they tackled something that you did or they tackled something new that you had not thought of. So you really are sort of processing what they are putting out publicly. And thinking about your initial post in that light.


Visual: The slide changes to the following list of questions:

Ask yourself questions to further determine why this post interests you.

  • Do I agree or disagree?
  • Do I have an example or experience that aligns with my peer’s ideas?
  • Is the argument effective?
  • Does it have any logical flaws?
  • Does it present new information?
  • Does it need further clarification?

Audio: And ask yourself some questions to further determine why this post interests you. I kind of tackled that already. Also think about their arguments. If it is effective. If there's any logical flaws. Oftentimes that's called poking holes in reading. You can do this in a very respectful way. If you see a flaw or, you know, something that was not addressed but you addressed it in your post or you found it in your reading, pointing that out and showcasing your knowledge and saying: To add, or a part you missed that I would love to highlight, is such and such.

You know, when you respond. Then you are adding value to the conversation. That is a good way to do it.


Visual: The following assignment prompt is displayed with the citation of (Walden University, 2013b): Read a selection of your colleagues' postings. Respond by Day 6 to two of your colleagues' postings in one or more of the following ways:

  • Compare and contrast their observations with what you found.
  • Ask a probing question.
  • Share an insight from having read your colleague's posting.
  • Offer and support an opinion.
  • Validate an idea with your own experience.
  • Make a suggestion.
  • Expand on your colleague's posting.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note what you have learned and/or any insights you have gained as a result of the comments your colleagues made.

Audio: Responding to a post. So you read the selection, compare, contrast.

I love to ask probing questions. Oftentimes that will be in the rubric, is to continue the conversation. What that really does mean is asking questions.

So often find something that is of interest to me and then I will ask that student more about it and show that I'm interested. Then I'm engaged in what they are saying and I would love to know and learn from them. I will often make statements like: I so enjoy learning from you. What are you currently thinking about such and such? Sometimes giving a compliment will help prompt that person to respond or be excited to respond to me.

Share insights. Your opinion. You can share your own experience. You can bring research in too. I usually bring research into my response posts. Sometimes the rubric requires it and sometimes it doesn't.But I still try to bring research in and show some things that other people are saying to support my thoughts and ideas too. But you are really expanding the conversation.


Visual: The slide changes to the title “Responding to a Post: Often more conversational, bust still…”

Follow the same writing process

Cite any sources you use

Maintain a scholarly and collegial tone

  • Engage with that person’s ideas rather than the person (especially if you disagree)
  • Use respectful language
  • Avoid all-caps

Continue the conversation!

Audio: All right. So in respect to time here, I see I have four minutes, and I'm just going to touch on the most important points of my last couple slides here so we don't run out of time.

I would just say on these response posts to use respectful language and to engage with other people's ideas and continue your conversation, keep your writing good quality, and you're always showcasing yourself professionally in writing in your first post and your second post.


Visual: The slide title changes to “Example: Responding: and the following two sample responses:

  • Response to Pat: I agree that Johnson seemed to be very thorough in using sources to support his ideas, Pat. In the examples you gave, however, I noticed that Johnson only used quotations. The Walden Writing Center (2013) advised students to paraphrase more than directly quote in their writing. So, while we can look to Johnson as a model for using sources in our writing, we should paraphrase those sources instead of quote them. How else would you revise Johnson’s work for improvement? References…
  • Response to Helen: Helen, you provided helpful insight when you mentioned that the author used a lot of colloquial language, which we should avoid in academic writing. As I also found in my article, it can be easy to overlook colloquial language because we use it so often in normal conversations. I found the Walden Writing Center’s (2013) examples of colloquial language and other types of casual wording useful in thinking more about this topic. References…

Audio: Here are two example posts that you can look at after the presentation and see what these students are doing well. They are both good quality posts and they are excerpts of a post.

And then think about summary. What makes for a good discussion post, what makes for a poor discussion post.


Visual: The slide changes to the title “Summary” and the following points Christina explains.

Audio: Then my ending point is, again, to think about the discussion just like sitting down to eat a meal. Take the time to engage in it. What it takes to produce a good quality discussion post is nurturing and it is rewarding and it does sustain you for the rest of the week as you continue to engage in your course assignments.


Visual: The slide changes to the following resources:

Audio: Here are some resources for you to check out.


Visual: The slide changes to display the title “Questions” and the words “Now: Let us know!” and “Anytime:” with the following: Watch the recordings:

Audio: And any questions, just let us know. So thank you.

Beth: Hi. Yeah, thank you so much, Christina. We had some wonderful discussion in the Q&A box so I want to thank you for a great presentation. Sounds like a lot of students are really benefitting from.


Visual: The webinar layout changes to display three poll questions for students to answer:

  1. Discussion posts offer the opportunity to do which of the following? (Choose all that apply.)
  1. Explore the focus and topic of the class for the week.
  2. Discuss ideas with my classmates.
  3. Practice my scholarly writing skills.
  4. None of the above.
    1. True or False: When I respond to my classmates’ posts, I should respond to their ideas and use a respectful tone.
      1. True
      2. False
    2. When you write discussion posts, which should you NOT do:
      1. Repeat what other students have said.
      2. Use appropriate scholarly writing skills.
      3. Add to the conversation.
      4. Cite my sources.

Audio: Beth: I wanted to note, I opened up the poll questions here. I encourage you to take a look at those, kind of test your knowledge a little bit. I'm going to be sending out answers in just a few minutes here at the end of the session. But I thought while we are doing that maybe, Christina, it would make sense to kind of end in the last two minutes here with just your overall sort of suggestions for students.

We had a question from a student who asked, you know, wow, this takes a lot of time and effort. I wonder if you could kind of speak to that and your best suggestions for students. Does that make sense?

Christina: Mmm hmm, yeah, that makes sense. That's great.

Yeah, I am a firm, firm believer in all the years I have been teaching, being an online student, I'm a firm believer in the long term view.

So the work that you put forth in the beginning with your end goal in mind does pay off for you.

So when you sort of look long term, look at your goals, what you need to achieve each week, really gathering that information, processing it at the beginning of the week allows you to be really well prepared and actually well equipped. It kind of it is almost like putting on if it's a snowstorm, putting on your hat, your mittens, your overcoat. You're dressing for the occasion and making sure that you're well equipped so when you go out into the elements you are not going to freeze. You're not going to suddenly miss something because you missed an assignment specification. Or you're not going to be caught off guard because you didn't address the two part topic. You only did the first part, and then you have to redo the assignment. You know? You have to go back in, you forgot a hat, you have to go back in.

If you think about your end goals and how to really prep yourself and set yourself up to be successful initially, I'm a firm believer that you do save time in the end. I really do.

So if you practice it a couple times, I encourage you to really practice it and see what happens.

Beth: I love that, Christina. Thank you. Yeah, that's fantastic. Well, thank you, Christina.

I'm sending out, everyone, the correct answers. So do take a look at those, see if you got the answers correct or not.


Visual: The following answers are displayed in the Q&A box: Correct answers: #1: A, B, C; #2: True; #3: A

Audio: Beth: And if didn't and you have questions, let us know at and any other questions you might have as well.

A big thank you to Christina as well as to Claire who was a champ answering questions in the Q&A box. Thank you to you both so much. Thank you to everyone for attending.

I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day. We will see you at another webinar. Thanks everyone. Have a great night.