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Online discussion forums

Discussion forums like Piazza are used to facilitate a discussion where participants do not have to communicate at the same time – think Facebook comments.

Responses are delayed, and users can generally post in the forum at any time. Discussion forums are useful when learning online, as students can discuss matters with other students and don’t have to wait for responses from their lecturers.

However, if there are large amounts of posts, it can be overwhelming and time-consuming to keep up with the discussion. Here are some tips to help you effectively work through and contribute to discussion forums.

Tips for communicating on discussion forums

  1. Develop a routine to regularly check discussion forums.  Discussion forums can get full fast. Set a specific time every day to check discussion forums.
  2. Search keywords. The search box is at the top left of the Piazza window, or if you’re on a computer, use Ctrl+F on Windows or Command+F on a Mac computer to search keywords.
  3. Scan and skim. If there are lots of posts, quickly scan the page and skim read posts.
  4. Post your questions with a clear summary.  Check first if your question has already been asked and answered. You can also select folder(s) to help group your question for easy searching. If you are asking for help with a tutorial question, past test or exam question name your post with details of where the question is from eg Test Q3b 2018 Sem 1.
  5. Don’t be shy. Students often spend a lot of time worrying about how they might be perceived based on what they write. Write what comes to mind just as long as you are respectful of others. 
  6. Manage your notifications. Avoid being overwhelmed by notifications from Piazza. The settings cog (top right of the screen) allows you to set up or change email alerts and notifications.

How to reply to a discussion post

Click on the red hot spots for further information.

Discussion question

Reply to the question

Reply to the reply

Virtual workshops

Virtual workshops are used to facilitate virtual discussion in real time – think Skype! Lecturers might use virtual workshops to run online classrooms. Virtual workshops are a great way to connect with other students and your peers in real-time. Here are some tips to make the most of virtual workshops.

Step 1. Check and test

Check that your microphone and camera are working.

Step 2. Find a quiet space

Set yourself up in a quiet space with minimal distractions.

Step 3. Join the session early

Join the workshop at least 15 minutes early to allow for any technical troubleshooting.

Step 4. Come prepared

Have your class notes and materials at hand. Complete any preparation tasks that your lecturer might set to get the most from the virtual workshop.

Step 5. Ask questions

Ask questions if you need to – your peers are likely to have the same questions.

Step 6. Relax and enjoy the class

We communicate through technology every day – consider the virtual workshop as another form of communication technology.