Teaching online guidebook
Discussion forums are a great way to create and encourage social presence between teacher and students (student/teacher, student/student). They are asynchronous, meaning that students and teachers can post at whatever time suits them.
Forums that don't relate to specific content are best located in one of the themed modules (see FLO starter site), for example an assessment forum in the assessment hub. Other forums may be located in the teaching modules for the topic and are specific to the content for that module. A forum/s may be assessed.
As with announcements, encourage students to respect cultural/other differences by using inclusive language and professional communication. Appropriate communication is a requirement for every workplace, so forums are an authentic activity.
General discussion forum
- Ask students how they are going with the videos/readings – note taking, understanding/learning content etc
- Encourage students to share learning techniques and tips
- Look for tips to improve the topic site/resources over time (eg next teaching semester)
- You could have a topic Q&A forum, answer commonly asked questions once so all students benefit
Task or subject-specific discussion forums
You can model the thinking you want to see in your students through your own forum posts.
- Use for teachable moments on topic content for the module
- Start with a trigger question to encourage participation
- What are the tricky concepts, the ones that are contestable, the misconceptions, the debates, the threshold concepts?
- Use a personal perspective and tap into something interesting/topical to provoke conversation. You could begin the discussion by posting something provocative yourself
- Discuss key ideas that will help students with their assessments
- Encourage students to practise ideas, be wrong, get feedback, voice an opinion (if not assessable)
- Invite or trigger discussion around a muddy point
- Start with a question or other prompt (eg 'This module we will look closely at…', 'What is your experience of…?', 'This forum focuses on…')
Provide a 'hook' – aim to make your forum posts enticing and relevant to students (from their point of view), and guide their posts in challenging directions.