What is a forum?
A forum provides interaction and discussion between student to student and faculty to student. They have some advantages over face-to-face discussions in that a record of every student submission can be stored and reviewed later for assessing a participation grade. Forums also allow all participants to be heard and provide student accountability and originality by not allowing students to see other student responses until they have posted their own response.
The forum activity module enables participants to have asynchronous discussions, i.e., discussions that take place over an extended period of time.
There are several forum types from which to choose: (1) standard forum for general use; (2) single simple discussion; (3) Q and A forum (4) standard forum displayed in a blog-like format. The two most widely used forum-types are described here. A standard forum allows anyone to start a new discussion at any time. A question and answer forum allows a student to to view other students' posts only after they first post their own response to the topic. A teacher can allow files to be attached to forum posts. Attached images are displayed in the forum post.
Participants can subscribe to a forum to receive notifications of new forum posts. A teacher can set the subscription mode to optional, forced or auto, or prevent subscription completely. If required, students can be blocked from posting more than a given number of posts in a given time period; this can prevent individuals from dominating discussions.
Forum posts can be rated by teachers or students (peer evaluation). Ratings can be aggregated to form a final grade which is recorded in the gradebook.
Forums have many uses, such as ....
A social space for students to get to know each other
For course announcements (using a news forum with forced subscription)
For discussing course content or reading materials
For continuing online an issue raised previously in a face-to-face session
For teacher-only discussions (using a hidden forum)
A help centre where tutors and students can give advice
A one-on-one support area for private student-teacher communications (using a forum with separate groups and with one student per group)
- For extension activities, for example ‘brain teasers’ for students to ponder and suggest solutions to.