First is through social learning. By conversing their thoughts and sharing it with the group, they can learn from the various participants in the discussion. What is great about social learning is they can benefit from each other’s thoughts. The instructor can drop an idea and let the group expound on it using their respective thoughts, experiences and backgrounds.
Forums also allow learners to indulge in self paced learning. While they will be taking cues from the group, they can choose to join in on the discussion or step back and just watch the rest give in their thoughts. When they are ready, they can start contributing their insights so others can benefit from it.
The great thing about using forums is the fact that it is a common means of communication. One of the most popular platform for forums is in social networks and you can expect that almost everyone has a social media account. You do not have to invest too much effort in explaining how learning through forums can be utilized.
A downside of forums in a training program is that the discussion that get out of hand. You want to give the learners enough space to let the natural learning process happen but you want to ensure that you maintain full control over everything. Here are three things that you can do to make the forum more effective in your elearning course.
Select the right platform.
It is important to choose the right platform to have your discussion. While social media platforms are okay, you need to ensure that the learners will not be distracted by the various elements and information found in it. We are not saying it is a bad idea to use this platform – you just have to ensure that the discussion will stay on focus. You should also consider the lesson that is to be discussed. For instance, if you want to discuss a particular article, then you can use the comment thread as your platform. If you want it to be a shorter discussion, you can use tools like Skype or other messenger applications. At least these tools are readily available and the learners do not have to pay anything to have them.
Set clear guidelines.
Another thing that you need to do when using forums in your training program is to set guidelines that the participants will follow. Set clear rules and expectations. If you want everyone to input at least one comment, make sure to indicate this. You should also be clear if you will allow them to create a new post and thus a new thread of messages. Are they allowed to include link? These are important rules that you need to define so things will stay within your control even as you give learners the freedom to share their ideas.
You want to control your discussions but make sure that you are flexible enough to adapt to what works best for the training program. For instance, if you think that the learners are a bit shy, you may want to divide them into different groups. This will make the discussion more intimate and it will give everyone a chance to be recognized without being overwhelmed by the number of people in the message board.
Use these tips so you can maximize the benefits of forums in your training program.
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