I hate Forum Posts! | Arts and Science ONLINE

I hate Forum Posts!

hated forum posts online learning

Do you dread seeing the instruction “Post a response to the forum and respond to at least two other posts.”?

You shouldn’t! I used to too until I realised not only is it a great opportunity to connect with other students, forum posts are also easy marks!

Okay, well, they still aren’t my favourite thing, BUT when students participate in the way intended, the forum becomes a tool for enhancing learning and overall enjoyment of the course. They are the perfect opportunity to have your voice heard, hear others, integrate the material you’re learning, and perhaps discover information you didn’t even know you were missing. Many students miss out on these easy marks and devoid themselves of learning opportunities by posting dead-end statements (i.e. Great point, Dave. I really enjoyed reading your response). This is also frustrating for students like me who make an effort to participate meaningfully. I make it a point to either find an idea in a response to draw upon and probe further into or to expand upon the topic and probe for that student’s opinion or interpretation. Sometimes playing devil’s advocate is the way to go. You might agree with the entire response, but for sake of debate or furthering conversation, find the opposing point; there are always at least two sides to everything. The key is to draw upon course material, use the course language and terms, and always include something that another student can draw upon to expand conversation (i.e. an open-ended question).

Most recently, I took COGS100 over the summer and one of the forum posts was to describe how the weather might affect our decision-making process. One student described a weather pattern he noticed between Ontario and British Columbia. How can I create a substantial response to that (rather than say, “wow neat observation.”)? Well, COGS100 introduces logic applications used by computers and other intelligent agents. So, I probed into turning his observations into an algorithm. This response then requires some thought from the other student and he could respond to me by contributing to the algorithm, correcting something he thinks I did wrong, etc., and I’ve now linked a seemingly irrelevant topic to the course material. It doesn’t matter that my algorithm was wrong or not implemented, what matters is I’ve facilitated a relevant discussion. Or tried to anyway. The student never responded to me and I was rather disappointed that we didn’t get to explore that further.

As someone with an introverted personality, I understand and feel the apprehension that comes with public commenting/voicing an opinion, but this past year I’ve chosen to ignore that feeling and just post what I want to say – this even included comments disagreeing with some lecture material that I could to support with empirical evidence (the instructor even conceded my point!). I felt great that I said what I wanted to; I didn’t worry about what others would think, I learned more, I felt less isolated from the course, and bonus, others learned from something I said.