Fig. 1. The strengths and weaknesses of online forums for learning
Forums are a core component of the Open University’s Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE), both for the tutor and student forums that are used through-out – the course is entirely online – and as a tool or process that we have to use and be assessed on using. 33 months in I have been a student in six forums, many break out forums, even moderated some when our tutor was unavailable for a period of weeks (we took it in turns). I’ve seen them work well, fail completely and muddle along.
Fig.2. The ups and downs of our tutor group activity in H800: Technology Enhanced Learning: practices and debates
It’s a strange business, like a high street with a dozen cafes and restaurants – some buzz, some buck, some expand, some close. In the above example there was excitement and universal participation when we said hello and later said goodbye. As each Tutor Marked Assignment approached everyone got busy composing their essay. Other peaks will include where we HAD TO take part in a group or sub-group activity in order to complete a task that we then wrote up in the assignment.
In 2001 I did an early module of that was then the Masters in Open and Distance Learning. Experimental. More of a bulletin board. A message every other week for the novelty factor with little sense of how it would break out into the social networking, peer group, live and as live, synchronous or asynchronous hub that they can be today.