Sunday, December 7, 2008

Looking for online community: Discussion forums

It can be quite difficult to find a discussion forum that matches my needs from a content-perspective.
Some groups or discussion forums have a likely topic (e.g., but are filled with ads to 'make money while working form home' which might match a childcare topic but it ends up being about AMWAY etc. or advertising adults sites.
So, maybe groups should be member driven, with approved membership... (, as Joe Manna says:
Communities which are public usually have three problems:
- Trolls
- Fear from New Users
- Spam Exposure

Some ways to make a discussion forum worthwhile are:
  • have students teach students - ensure as tutor that I pick someone with a good attitude and good ideas or perspectives to share
  • Moderate loosely but precisely - use a gentle hand in editing or culling posts, but be very clear about standards and topics to be covered and when disconnecting someone make it very obvious so peers learn by example
  • Don't be a Nazi - I don't have to be in complete control (
And, while the following quote was primarily talking about the IT or tools for use, I think the pre-course tutor choice is essential!
"...empower the teacher to impact on the learner and learning environment and whether the teacher is able to design, facilitate and direct the learning experience towards “educationally worthwhile learning outcomes”..."

1 comment:

Leigh Blackall said...

Google groups for example.. has 3 main settings:

1. Open group

2. Member by invite (and people can request invite

3. Closed group

Google groups can be used through email, RSS or directly on the forum website.

I usually start with an open group.. to increase the chances of more membership. If it is a sensitive group from the start (ie. reluctant to use online forums, reluctant to communicate, easily turned off) then I might start with a request invite setting.

My mistake in the FOC course is that I had an over whelming response to joining the course and everyone seemed to have a lot of early energy. Next time I think I will introduce the forum later in teh course, so that the start up energy is poured into something like your great idea to use Youtube for introductions!

Youtube can be (and has been many times) used as a very effective video forum! Who needs text any more! Well, those on dial up I guess :) oh.. and those who are shy or concerned about privacy.. oh, and those who have very low motivation for technology.. ho hum..