(Disclaimer: I'm hoping to solicit some good responses to get some material together to post to the MoodleDocs site, as well as to share in a Moodle session I will be giving at NECC in a couple of weeks)
1. Allow only replies from students (letting them add a discussion topic quickly makes the forum feel unwieldy)
2. Begin by setting the rules/expectations for tone of responses, language/grammar used, and suggestion for length of appropriate responses.
3. Provide an example discussion/reply interchange to illustrate the concept (and power) of a collaborative exchange in a forum.
There are mine, now anybody willing to share theirs?
I've not had much luck in getting my post-16 students to use the forums much, but this seems to have been down to the following:
- Having the messaging system turned on from the start - they just used that instead - I reccomend turning it off for the first few weeks or using the message restrictions hack to prevent it being used during lesson times
- Not needing to use it - they have been able to collaborate in other ways, removing the impetus for finding out how it worked. Best to set some sort of task whereby they *need* to get information from others and have no other way of doing so.
- Same as your no.3 - they were unfamilliar and had no idea what form the postings should take. might be worth setting a research task where they are only allowed use a forum (outside of your site) as their source.
2. Keep involved in the forum yourself.
3. Make sure everyone understands subscription (this is the one that you don't see in the typical good practice guides, and the one I really wish I'd thought about more when I started moodling!)
Here are my top three rules for setting up discussion forums.
- Ask thoughtful questions that elicit unique responses. I often ask students to tell about a personal experience that illustrates or supports their argument. That way each student's response adds to the richness of the conversation. I post the questions early so they have time, a couple of days, to consider and compose their responses.
- Require a certain level of participation and grade it. I require what I call substantive posts in addition to their answers. Define what a substantive post is.
- Set subscriptions to "Yes, initially."
Forum participation is mandatory for this class and is 10% of your grade. Participation is not “OK I posted” or “I was first,” it is active PARTICIPATION within the subject being addressed in the forum. This requires study and/or thought before posting. If you see a question or concern by another student that you can help, helpful responses are worth points toward your final grade.
No Bashing of others allowed. Lively, informative debate is welcome, but personal attacks will result in an F for each offence. Depending on the severity of an attack on another member of this forum may result in an F for the course and you will be locked out. Choose your words wisely and keep those words on the subject. Personal attacks will be deleted and receive a failing grade. Try to replace thoughts of “you idiot” to “I believe that the opinion you presented has flaws” and present a clear and logical counter response to the comment made.
Stay within the forum’s appropriate subject area. All students must successfully pass the first assignment before obtaining access to the rest of the course (the remainder of the course is hidden until this assingment is graded). This helps keep students out of the actual class forums until they learn to post in an organized manner. As the first assignment, I set up an initial self introduction forum where student’s learn to respond to the overall forum versus responding to an individual within a main forum area. This allows students to learn how to post a new thread and also respond to individual threads. The final look of the forum would have 25 postings (each student writes an introduction about himself and posts it) with 25 subcategories (hi, nice to meet you’s under these main postings). Students that are responding in the "who I am" main forum to fellow students will have their posting moved and sent an email with instructions on appropriate posting practices. This helps to keep subsequent forums clean and organized.
My question is how do you monitor the students posts if they are inappropriate.
Please excuse my lack of knowledge of the ways of the forums, but I can't seem to find any info on what Moodle's modules can do! I only read forums on problems on what it can't do.
The questionnaire module is survey/feedback creation tool that allows you to create a specific set questions and then let students/site visitors select their response. This would let you ask targeted questions as well as a section for general comments if you desired. The questionnaire is a free add-on module to Moodle.
As far as monitoring student posts, there are several ways to do that.
1. The first is that, as the "teacher" or moderator of the course you can edit/delete replies if needed.
2. You can also subscribe to the forum so that any posts are emailed to you (I find this quickly causes my inbox to fill up, however)
3. Use an RSS reader to subscribe/read the forum (in my opinion, the best way to monitor posts for content)
Be aware that once censorship is discovered by students, they often experiment to find ALL WORDS which are censored. >
There is also this resource from Alaska Pacific University about generating good forum learning.