5.3 Using discussion forums effectively

It can be challenging to meaningfully engage students in online forums, but careful design and management of the forums will result in success. Key to success is ensuring that the discussion forums are meaningful and that students understand, and agree with, the benefits of participation.

Participation in forums is higher when it is required and graded. But it is not always feasible to allocate grades, thus the benefits for posting in non-graded discussions must be explicit. For example, create a discussion forum for students to ask questions about an upcoming assignment, encourage them to answer each other’s questions and intervene to inform them if they are on the right/wrong track.

In order to avoid last minute posting by students, make the post a two-stage process. Ask students to post an initial answer to the prompt in the first week and then a more substantive response that will be graded in the second week.

Contact students who are not engaging, individually via email or by phone. Some students may lack the confidence to put their ideas in an open discussion forum, consider using private forums that only you and the students sees as a scaffolding mechanism. At the end of the discussion summarise the main points of the discussion thread towards the end of the period before requesting any final thoughts.

 

 

 #Openteach Takeaway Resource

In this part, we looked at how to set up and manage effective forums.

You can access a downloadable copy of the material here: Using Discussion Forums.

 

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