A discussion forum is an online asynchronous communication board, where a user can read or add messages for various communities of practice. The forum feature allows online communication in an LMS and messages can be posted or read by anyone at anytime.
A discussion forum is organized into discussion threads. GnosisConnect too provides various features of these discussion threads, including:
- Messages can be posted by adding a new thread or replying to an existing post
- Posts can be controlled by locking or unlocking threads
- Threads can also be hidden or made unavailable to participants
By allowing users to create and join interest-based user groups and discussion forums, GnosisConnect caters to each community of practice. These forums are a critical part of the eLearning industry and provide learners with an opportunity to connect with instructors and peers. However, before making the decision to use discussion forums in your eLearning program, consider a few points:
Set the rules: Each user should know the dos and don’ts of the discussion forum. For a forum to be successful, the expectations and guidelines should be shared in advance with the users, such as:
- What is the user’s role?
- How should one behave while interacting with their peers?
- Who will be given access to the thread?
- Can they start their own discussion by creating a new post?
Initiate: Initiate the discussion by posting a question, a thought, or an idea, then let them take over. Intervene if the users deviate from the topic, but give your learners the opportunity to share their skills and insights with each other. Encourage users to collaborate with their peers.
Create smaller groups: Because everyone is different, it is critical to understand their psychology. Some may be reluctant to share their thoughts and experiences in a public forum. As a best practice, one may divide the class into smaller groups and only allow members of the group to see the thread. Again, if you see that specific learners are still not interacting with their peers on the forum, then you can reach out to them privately and address their concerns.
Create a schedule: It is critical to creating a schedule for the users to be able to effectively use the forum. For example, ask them to create at least one post by every Sunday. Provide ample time to post and give a virtual nudge to those who haven’t posted by the scheduled time. Provide the schedule in advance so that it does not come as a last-minute surprise!
If you’re looking for a forum/social learning enabled Learning Management System for your company, take a look at our LMS, GnosisConnect. We even have a free trial so you can try it out and see how it fits your needs.