The principles of a scholarly discussion in an online environment underscore the rules of etiquette that should be observed for productive sessions. The contemporary learning has shifted to online platforms where learners are required to engage in virtual discussions with instructors and fellow students. The same rules that are followed in a classroom should apply during online discussions. However, a classroom set up allows face-to-face communication, which comes with numerous benefits. For instance, body language and other non-verbal cues contribute up to 93% of face-to-face communication (Borg, 2008). Therefore, online discussions leave the involved parties with a paltry 7 %, which must be utilized to the maximum. This understanding necessitates the need for defined principles of a scholarly discussion in an online environment.
These principles include participation, helping others, patience, being brief, using proper writing style and language, respecting diversity, and citing sources among others. The element of participation is important as it encourages all students and instructors to be part of the discussion. Some students may simply log into their accounts and read comments by their fellow learners and the instructors without participating, and this aspect contravenes the principles of active learning. Besides, one should be ready to help others who may be unacquainted with such discussions because it is an emerging trend. Patience plays a critical role in such forums, and thus one is required to read and understand the contents of the discussion before commenting. The use of proper writing style and formal language cannot be overemphasized. As noted earlier, online discussions rob the participants of the benefits of face-to-face communication. Therefore, the language used should be formal and precise to ensure that the intended message is passed effectively.
The differences between scholarly discussions and social networking hinge on the set objectives and the expected outcomes. Scholarly discussions have specific objectives that have to be achieved and measurable outcomes. On the other side, social networking involves catching up with friends without any specific goals. Additionally, the content of scholarly discussion differs from that of social networking. In the scholarly discussions, the primary purpose of the content is to educate, and the participants may be tested after a set period. However, in social networking, the content is mainly meant for entertainment, and it mostly involves grapevine or news. Another differentiating factor about these two forms of communication is the nature of the language used. In scholarly discussions, the language if formal and technical depending on the subject under study (Appana, 2008).
On the other side, social networking involves informal language characterized with slang and abbreviations among other loose writing styles based on the topic and the individuals communicating. Scholarly online discussions involve a certain number of participants, who are mainly instructors and students sharing a common goal of learning. However, social networking entails making friends and the list may grow to thousands. Some individuals like celebrities and politicians have thousands or even millions of followers. In essence, the popularity of some individuals is measured by the number of followers on social media like Facebook and Twitter. However, this phenomenon is non-existent in online scholarly discussions, where communities are small made up of individuals sharing the common goal of learning. Therefore, it suffices to conclude that the basic differentiating factor between online scholarly discussions and social networking is the objective of such conversations.
Appana, S. (2008). A review of benefits and limitations of online learning in the context of the student, the instructor, and the tenured faculty. International Journal on E-Learning, 7(1), 5-22.
Borg, J. (2008). Body language: seven easy lessons to master the silent language. New York, NY: Prentice Hall.