Online Course Forum Tips

learn-smallMany online courses today have some component of online forum for discussion about the course material. This is especially true for the educational environment as students are often encouraged to provide feedback (and answer questions) based on course.

But creating an effective forum takes more than having the proper technology in place. As the facilitator (and admin) there are some techniques you can employ to help maximize your online discussions for you and the students.

Below are a few quick tips for generating a positive, thoughtful community for your elearning.

Start Simple – Before asking users to answer questions based on content, get them used to the program you are using for your forums. For example, you can have them upload an avatar and post in the introduction section.

Set a Structure – Never start your online forum without ground rules, and make sure that all participants have a clear understanding about what is expected of them in terms of behavior and their contributions. Having some form of “sign-off” for these ground rules is a good idea, perhaps as the first post that a student makes on the site.

Be Supportive – Ask questions of the learners that relate back to key objectives of the course. Request that learners provide more details to back-up their opinions with references to the material and personal experience.

Promote Community – Give other students an opportunity to facilitate (or lead) discussions in the forum. In the right circumstances, promote some users to moderators. This will foster a sense of ownership, and ultimately pride, in the discussions.

Provide Assistance – Make sure you have a place in the forum (or on the site) where students can vent their frustrations, request for help, or report on unacceptable forum behavior.

Reference:
Michaels & Associates
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About the Author:

Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by the world's leading organizations, such as the University of Michigan, Digital Marketer, WPEngine, and Infusionsoft. Justin has made a career as an elearning consultant where he has implemented large-scale training programs for Fortune 500 companies. Twitter | LinkedIn

3 Comments
  1. MOOC takers often complain about MOOC forums being void of a true sense of community with only a select few actually participating actively in the discussions. This is often due to the fact that these forums don’t have a “community manager” to seed and moderate the content, making them difficult to use and sometimes unfriendly. I raise this issue in my article, “Why MOOC forums fail to deliver” which can be accessed via my MOOC Discussion Website, MoocLab.club. MoocLab is a new centralised discussion board for consumers and providers of online learning to share experiences, discuss topical issues and learn from each other. If you’d like to join me and the other founder members in making this new and exciting platform into a thriving e-learning community, please come and sign up at mooclab.club/…it’s free! To read and comment on the article “Why MOOC forums fail to deliver”, go to mooclab.club/threads/why-mooc-forums-fail-to-deliver.49/. Thanks for your support and I look forward to seeing you on MoocLab!

  2. I love the idea of including forums for learners. The most effective courses that I have ever been in are ones that encourage interaction among the attendees. Especially when it is a skill building course.

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