Why you should join online forums

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An online forum complements an online class. It is another area to learn and interact with your teacher and classmates.

What are online forums?

Online forums are also called discussion forums or discussion boards. It is an “area where users share thoughts, ideas or help by posting text messages. It can be read at any time.” It is like a classroom where everyone talks about one topic.

Forums can be moderated or unmoderated. Messages are reviewed and approved before they are posted in moderated forums. A person or computer software does this. Moderators can also answer questions and keep discussions on the topic. Unmoderated forums are not reviewed.

There are many types of forums. For example Quora, is a question and answer forum; CanadaVisa Forum is on immigration and settlement in Canada; and Discussions on eBrandon.ca is about life in Brandon Manitoba.

Why joining is important

  1. You learn more. It is an additional area to get information. You learn from shared opinions, questions or links to educational resources.
  2. You can ask questions. Ask questions if did not understand something in class.
  3. You gain skills. You practice your writing and conversational skills in a forum. You also practice your digital skills.
  4. Networking. You talk to people with the same interests. You can build a support group or a community.
  5. Help improve classes. Give feedback in a forum. This can help your teacher improve the online course.

What you should remember when joining a forum

  1. Follow forum rules. Be courteous and respectful.
  2. Stay on topic. Don’t talk about irrelevant matters. This will confuse others.
  3. Explain. Give a background or explanation when asking questions. Make sure that others will understand your question fully. For example:
    “I did not understand _____________ in the Coffee Chat this afternoon on (topic). Can you please explain why they did not agree?”

    “You shared a website for (topic) in the drop-in session on (topic). Can you please share it in this forum? Thank you.”

    “The class on _____ was interesting. As a newcomer, I agree that it is important to know these matters to help us adjust. What do you think about____.”

  5. Check before posting. Check your spelling, grammar and tone. Make sure that people will understand what you said.
  6. Participate. Comment, share your opinions and answer questions. Help others.
  7. Connect with your teacher. Comment on the course or ask a question.
  8. Network with other learners. Connect with other participants. Start conversations, share resources and other information with your classmates.

Sources: What research tells us about online discussion, John Orlando, PhD, Faculty Focus; Forum (definition), Computer Hope; Benefits of a discussion forum, Drs. Cavanaugh. Accessed May 31, 2019.

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