Engaging with the possibilities of forum discussions

Finally, in week 9 of 14 of my first session of my Master’s degree in teacher librarianship, I have had a taste of the possibilities for discussion and discourse in the online subject discussion forums. In an earlier blog post, I lamented the difficulties of online learning – especially how much I missed the back and forth of in-class discussion in a face-to-face class delivery format. This week I have had a little nibble of that experience on the Module 5.1 forum discussions in ETL401.

I think that the definition of the task helped:

Write a 300 word commentary on what you have learnt so far and post on Forum 5:1. Read at least 2 other posts and provide feedback to your peers.

I believe that setting a word count helped to discipline our responses. This helped tp encourage posts that were meaty enough to give the reader something to respond to but targetted enough in their scope that other students didn’t get overwhelmed with the task. Setting an expectation of reading and responding to at least two posts aided in getting the conversational ball rolling.

I was pleased to engage with someone regarding my own commentary, and also was able to use some of the thoughts that I had prepared for another activity to engage with other students on the topic of multi-modality and ended up getting a reference to an interesting article on transliteracy.

In general, I still find it difficult to engage effectively on the forums, especially in classes with 100 – 150 + students enrolled. This positive experience, however, has given me hope and encouraged me to take the initiative to harness the possibilities fro rich interaction that the forums have the potential to offer.

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