Why Forums Work (in Moodle)

October 28, 2009 § Leave a comment

I sometimes write the basis of an article and leave it as a draft. I then revisit the article and review my original reflections. Interesting, more often than not I prove myself wrong. This article on Moodle learning was not the exception.

I have been thinking about the ‘Progression‘ slide for Moodle. Dont worry about me, its only been fleeting here and there thinking. I just wanted to understand why are forums the first real tool that sparks interest and why so often lest as passive forums by teachers? And I  also wanted to think aloud and think through how we could accelerate that progression.

Also, I want to be respectful on three accounts.

  • I doubt that the list was written for public scrutiny
  • I only have 3 months Moodle experience
  • The list was presented (if not written) by the author of Moodle.

Initially I am not convinced that the list is accurate….

Six months on  I have found that I have had the most success with… yes, forums despite efforts with other activities. I posted resources (mainly untouched), I have set up quizzes and questionnaires, I even tried a glossary but the first activity to take a real hold of the students online learning was a forum. In reviewing and rethinking the presentation by Martin Dougiamas at Moodlemoot, I would raise one observation.

Maybe its the users that determin the success of the online tool rather than the educator ability to drive it. I set up a range of forums and it would appear that the students simply enjoyed the conversation with one another. I did read and rate comments in some forums, but this seemed to have minimal influence compared to the fourms where I did not. The success of the tool, in my view, was the extended conversation opportunities it offered. The second reason it was a success – it required limited teacher influence to be successful. In contrast, getting students to contribute to a glossary or reminding students to complete the questionnaire was left me sounding like a broken record. 

Now that I have some examples of successfuol forums, I can share these with colleagues. Meanwhile I will go onto to try some new activities – in particular I want to use a workshop.


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