and note that the critique applies to Moodle as well.
The main thrust of the critique is that when you reply to a post in a discussion thread, you only see the text of the post you are replying to. However, one often wants to refer to other posts in the thread. To do this currently, one needs to right click and open up another window and suchlike contortions.
I think that a good way to address this issue would be to initially just show the text of post you are replying to together with titles of other posts in the thread. There should be checkboxes next to these titles and a button to refresh the view, showing the text of all the other posts whose checkboxes have been checked on. Or some +/- controls which allow you to expand the titles to complete posts.
This is a complex issue. I am replying after Bryan and I do see the title if his post. But having all post in a thread open would suppose lot of scrolling. And opening/closing individual messages, quite a mess, more if you are in a slow connection. What do you think about a "compose page" in an small pop-up window? In such way you can keep the whole thread open in a window and the answer in other in a "natural" way, without having to right click, etc.
I understand that threading usually means branching and see the risk of fragmentation that Feldstein points out. But I think he is talking about "casual" or "general purpose" forum conversations. Where all contribute to all. But in some parts of education we do need branching, and been able to review arguments in the thread, why branching occurs etc.
Moodle offers a "flat" format, but I use most the "nested", since I do see al posts (with scrolling) AND the tree. What I try to do (and not always do) is to reply to the OP if my answer is a kind of summing-up or combined reply for several posts (something quite usual if you have a teacher role). But there seem to be no netiquette agreement on this nowadays (young people have not used usenet newsgroups at all). I would like the "reply to conversation" button suggested by Feldstein. And I am sure it is much more easy to implement. Perhaps the mere existence of the choice (to all, to poster) would enforce thinking about before posting.
- Enrique -
Now already you have a link to view the discussion start message in Moodle when answering a message
What I'm playing with now is how to set up forums so that there can be different sets of tagging available. As an example, a bug tracker would allow for tagging of a discussion as a whole - where the problem is, what type it is - and then tagging of posts - additional information, potential fix. A question and answer forum might want posts to be tagged as question, further info, response.
Getting this information hooked into the posts properly, along with linking the relationships, will allow us to start designing the informational display and the user interface.
I could see a forum format the collapses the posts like gmail, and allows me to quickly open and close them while I'm editing.
It would be great to have a personal scrapbook, that allows me to collect bits of information as I move through forums and other activities. These scraps would have appropriate informational ties back to their sources and would allow me to drop them into posts or other activities.
Anyway, lots of thinking still to do...
In the 80s we had a simple version of cMap: you could attach notes to other posts on a graphical screen or connect two other notes:
- notes were visualised as bulbs
- the more refences, the bigger the bulb (the core statement?)
- you could follow a thread and attach a new node
- but also connect two other statements (kind of harvesting, new in forums!)
- (several notes could be grouped in a super bulb? with a lable as a kind of summary)
So, a cMap as forum-metaphor?
Before I push the answer button, I read a thread, so what is the problem?
The only problem I have with current Moodle forums, is that you loose the view on the branch where the reply is aiming at: like this message is an answer on the first message in this forum....
maybe should an answer be right under the previous answer, unless you press a (new)button called "new branch" which will be a new column next to the previous one.
maybe something like the swimlanes in UML?
maybe a merge button for two branches is also wishable?