By Carla Laplaca
I would like to begin by thanking all of you, students and professors alike, who have taken the time to read the introductory article and respond in such an encouraging way, especially those of you who have shared the link with others.
Please continue to share as that is the way we will get the word out and increase online participation.
The contact information in the accompanying image is the real deal and I welcome any questions, suggestions for future topics or just a quick hello.
The discussion board is the focus for this installment and something that every online student is familiar with.
I ask you to clear your mind of preconceived notions and dread of this topic and try to see the Discussion board in a new light. There really is a wealth of knowledge and experience to be gained there that many overlook.
Let’s consider critiques. I think many of us grow up hearing, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” While good advice, this comment is not totally accurate when applied to discussion board etiquette.
A general rule of thumb is to find something nice to say about the work you are critiquing and follow with an aspect that can be improved. But better advice might revolve around the golden rule – “Do unto others…”
We are all here to learn. If our work were already perfect, we would be wasting our time. When we hold back on critiques because we do not want to hurt another student’s feelings, we are doing that student a huge disservice.
That being said, there are positive ways to deliver seemingly negative information.
For example, instead of saying “I do not like the colors you chose for project x” it is more helpful to say something like “I would suggest you experiment with a warmer color palette to relay your intended message more clearly. Your current color choice does not seem to represent your concept accurately.”
If you are unsure about how your comments will be received, you can always take advantage of Blackboard IM and bounce them off of a fellow student before posting.
All of us have different strengths and weaknesses. Some may excel in reading and remembering instructions and content, while others have an eye for typography or color. Use what you know to help others and glean from their knowledge to strengthen your own knowledge base.
If you notice your classmate did not follow specs, include that in your critique; he or she would most likely be extremely grateful that you prevented a potentially costly mistake.
Out in the real world, you will benefit greatly from being able to communicate and collaborate with everyone from your superiors to your co-workers to the client. Don’t pass up this opportunity to hone those skills.
On a practical note, I have heard more than one student comment on just not having the time to manage the discussion board successfully with all of the other things on our lengthy to-do lists. If you will get into the habit of logging into the Discussion Board at least once a day, 15 minutes at a time, I think you will be surprised at how much you can accomplish.
The more I participate on the board, the more comfortable I become with the material. When quiz time rolls around, it’s a lot less stressful and I retain most of the vocabulary which makes discussion flow much easier in subsequent courses.
I urge you to develop a healthy attitude toward the discussion board and interaction with your fellow students. When you sit down to type out that critique, think about how you want fellow students to view your work.
Do you want them to pull up your file, glance at it and say “That’s nice” and move on? Or do you want them to take the time to look closely at your work and provide thoughtful suggestions that will help you grow as an artist?
You have the power to set the tone and inspire others to follow your example in every course you log into.
Take advantage of that privilege.