Also referred to as online message boards, forums are fabulous, powerful tools that can engage your learners in collaborative projects, such as out-of-class test reviewing, group project discussions/brainstorming (with all brainstorming documented), debating among classes, contributing to a topic discussion that's not in real time, role playing, inviting guests, and so on. Forums enable learners to practice skills not easily supported in traditional class settings. Studies have shown that learners participate in forum discussion more than they would in a traditional classroom setting. Educators have identified the following reasons for learners' increased participation in forums: Shyness is less of a factor, language barriers are less of a hindrance, and peer pressure is lessened. In addition, when learners discuss a topic in a forum, they can employ their computers' usability options to overcome disabilities that affect communication, and they have time to research and think through their answers before replying.
Before you create any forums, though, you need to choose what type of forum you want to create. To do that, you need to think about how to best integrate forums into your course. I discuss these issues before showing you how to actually create a forum.
Before you dive in and start creating stimulating forums for your course, take some time to think about the following issues: