Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Forum Discussion

We are currently having a discussion on forums and learning journals...present are Jenny, Alex, Juliette, Patrick, myself and Simon.

We are having a problem in that the number of people who are using the OpenLearn forums and making postings is rather limited. It is felt that the reasons for this may be:

  • there are too many forums

  • the forums are often too deeply embedded

  • people may not be encouraged to enter the forum

Ideas discussed include making it look like there is just one forum, but with many threads, reducing the total number of forums so that there are a few key ones, centred around discipline areas for example.

Maybe forums are not the answer....learning journals can represent thought collection. What can we use the learning journals to do...encourage the idea of thought collections...personal learning journals.

They are personal, but you can get your journals so that they are viewable to everyone. It would be interesting to find out how many people are using the journal.

Discussed the need to make it easy to find the forums.

Jenny suggested there needed to be a generic invitation paragraph to each of the forums (rather than 700 or so different invites). The problems of getting and trying out good ideas and experimenting with them e.g. putting the tools next to the content.

Patrick said we were in an experimental mode and that there might be ways of doing things more quickly.

Jenny then added a new bit of information on the page following the discuss your ideas link. [TERM: Sticky block - part of the Moodel site that is stuck on every single page - usually located on the left and right hand sides]. This gave instructions of where to find the forums and a link to the forums.


simonfj said...

I think the main thing is that we all want to know that we are plugging in to a group of global peers, not just "accessing" the "repositories" (and repositors) of a single national institution.

John Dehlin over at MIT seems to have the right idea, with the OCW consortia forum. It's a good example of an embryonic global grouping of people (interested in remote OCW initiatives), who seem intent on "bringing their disciplines together" = improving on the ways in which, and means by which, they communicate. I think John could also use use a few excellent bilingualists.

New habits can never be forced, worst luck. The hard bit, I find, is in encouraging people to have a conversation, above the radar, in one spot, long enough for 'peers' to find one another. Outreach, on the other hand, is supposedly an institutional science. (no?)

I popped in mainly to ask a question of Alex. Any idea of how MSG might 'interface' with FreeWorld's DialUp Network(s)?

Andreas Meiszner said...

Hi Steve

It might have to do with discussing about a particular course is just too narrow, or there are not enough problems / ideas to be discussed. I just had a quick 15 minutes search at google to see if anywhere else topics that have been studied at openlearn where discussed. But the only results where people pointing to openlearn courses to help others (see or
You might also have a look at forums that work out to find some ideas. The physics forum ( is quite comprehensive. At physics is not that much of an “sexy” area that should easily attract people (or was it this group of guys that spend the evenings at the web?). If you browse the physics forum you will see that a.) they create content themselves and b.) point to many existing sources within this.
In general I think that the modern online learner knows his support forums, or finds them by asking google for the solution of a specific question/problem.