Discussion board guidelines

RMIT has developed guidelines for using online discussion boards or chat rooms. Participants have a range of responsibilities, whether they act as a moderator or ordinary participant.

Responsibilities of participants

As a public space it is expected that everyone using discussion forums do so as if they are in a classroom or engaging in public communication such as writing a letter for publication in a newspaper. Consider if what you want to say in an on-line posting is something you would say, using the same words, to someone’s face.

The online space is there to be used by people who:

  • Understand the value of presenting their ideas respectfully
  • Want to represent the views of others as accurately as possible
  • Want to persuade by appealing to relevant evidence or using the conventions of logical argument
  • Do so at all times with a sensitivity to the capacity of language to cause pain and distress, or to vilify and defame.

When using the Discussion Board feature within Blackboard, students are advised as follows:

  • The use of the Discussion Board is governed by RMIT Electronic Communications
  • Posts must not contain any abusive or unlawful content. Posts that are defamatory, abusive, threatening, discriminatory or otherwise unlawful are not permitted
  • Participants should not contribute advertising materials, commercial product endorsements, or off-topic materials
  • Participants must not contribute any material that breaches copyright
  • Participants are in no way to impersonate other people, including other participants
  • Posts are to remain constructive and respectful of others at all times.
  • Participants may not post content that infringes or threatens the privacy of others.
  • Participants should be aware that staff may monitor discussion forums and remove inappropriate posts
  • Any post that a participant may consider as breaching reasonable comment should be raised with an appropriate staff member.

Responsibilities of the moderator

Like any other curriculum space an RMIT, Blackboard discussion forum is a space where RMIT teaching staff have a responsibility for ensuring that the purposes of the university are achieved. Teaching staff should take reasonable steps to ensure that the rule of law and the normal conventions of responsible and respectful discussion and interaction in discussion boards are observed.

As moderator of a discussion board or chat room you should support effective and positive use of Blackboard discussion forums and carry out the following:

  • Ensure that participants have been informed of the Electronic communications policy
  • Model good behaviour for students as to the style of interchange and discussion
  • Encourage all those who post to the discussion forum to seek to demonstrate that they understand and abide by the conventions of respectful and robust public dialogue, debate and critique
  • Inform discussion forum participants that libelous and defamatory statements, statements likely to affront legislation or relevant community standards of debate and dialogue, and statements that vilify or hurt others will not be permitted
  • Where practical, monitor discussion forums from time to time, or make arrangements to have discussion forums monitored
  • Investigate and act on complaints promptly
  • Remove inappropriate posts that come to their attention speedily
  • Remove any entries that may be in breach of sections of the RMIT Electronic Communications Policy, including any material that breaches copyright, or infringes on the privacy of others. These and other guidelines are outlined in the university’s Privacy policy and in the Electronic communications policy.

To help clarify the usage for students, you can add the following notice in your Blackboard site:

This Discussion Board is for you to discuss and share ideas and resources relating to the course with your fellow students. I will be routinely monitoring discussion and may respond to your postings from time to time. Please make sure that you treat all students’ contributions with respect. Posts that are defamatory, abusive, threatening, discriminatory or otherwise unlawful are not permitted.

As moderator’s staff have the duty to remove any entries that come to their attention that may be in breach of sections of the RMIT Electronic Communications Policy, including any material that breaches copyright or infringes on the privacy of others. These and other guidelines are outlined in the University’s Privacy policy and in the RMIT Electronic communications policy.

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