Effective Discussion Forums

Effective Discussion Forums


Hello and welcome to today’s Moodle Minute. This month, each our Moodle Minutes will focus
on a different aspect of discussion forums. Today we’re going to look at six tips for
more effective discussions. First, make sure there is a clear link between
your module or weekly objectives and what you are asking your students to do in the
forum. For example, do you want them to evaluate
a claim or a statement based on evidence? Do you want them to diagnose or troubleshoot
a problem and recommend a course of action? Do you want them to predict what might happen
(or might have happened) under certain conditions? Once you’ve got your focus of the forum,
create an open-ended prompt, something that allows for multiple viewpoints, interpretations
or solutions. Third, set clear expectations for student
posts and replies. These expectations might include a minimum
length, inclusion of specific examples, or references to course materials to support
their position. Maybe you want them to find a relevant online
resource on their own and post a link to it. It’s often helpful to include an example
of a good post and a quality response so they can see what an “A” work looks like. Fourth, consider timing. A good practice is to have two due dates:
one for initial posts, and a later one for replies. That way you can avoid a chaotic scramble
ten minutes before the deadline when nobody has posted anything yet for people to reply
to. There are also other possibilities for timing. If you want students to engage with a question
or concept over a long period of time, consider extending the discussion over several weeks,
with multiple postings. This helps develop deeper understanding and/or
allows for students to revise their thinking based on new information. Fifth, decide what your level of participation
in the forum will be, and participate. Unless you have a small class, it’s not
feasible to respond to every post. Besides, you don’t want to dominate an online
discussion any more than you’d want to dominate an in-class discussion. A good model is to participate like you would
in a traditional class; not replying to every single comment, but asking questions and making
suggestions where they would be most helpful in moving the discussion forward. Finally, use the tools in Moodle to make discussion
forums work for you. Using MoodleRooms forums in conjunction with
the MoodleRooms Grader can streamline your grading. Advanced Grading allows you to create a clickable
rubric, and the Q&A Forum option hides all posts from a student until he has submitted
his own post. For more information on how to use Moodle
most effectively for your forums, go to DCCC’s Moodle Resources page for some helpful videos,
or give me a call and let’s talk about what you’d like to do in your discussion forums. And if you have a specific suggestion or a
request for a Moodle Minute on discussion forums or any other topic for that matter,
let me know. We do take requests here at Moodle Minute
Headquarters.

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