Forum Tutorial PLACE- Edited Fall 2015
Hello, and welcome to The PLACE, the Professional Learning and Collaboration Environment of the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University.
A key features of any professional learning experience with the Friday Institute is the ability for participants to connect, collaborate, and support each other’s learning. One of the main vehicles for doing so is a discussion forum.
This brief tutorial will show you how to use The PLACE’s discussion forum and we invite you to use the chapter function below this video in order to skip to specific sections that might be most relevant to your needs.
This tutorial will use one of our MOOC-Ed courses as an example, though you might be enrolled in any number of professional learning opportunities offered by the Friday Institute.
Once you’ve logged into your course, look for the link to a discussion forum in the landing page. After clicking on the link, you will be brought to a forum space that will contain a discussion prompt along with a list of any discussion threads that may have already been created by your course colleagues. We recommend that you begin by clicking on the title of any discussions that interest you and/or apply to your work. After clicking on the title, you will be brought to the post itself along with any participant replies to the post.
Viewing a Discussion:
Note that you have the option to select how you would like to view discussion replies by clicking on the dropdown menu directly above the post. We encourage you to find the view layout that best suits your forum engagement style. This view can be changed at any time, and it does not impact the way that anyone else can view a thread - it only applies to what you are seeing.
The default layout view is set to be “Display replies in nested form.” This allows you to see the entire body of each reply. The next view, working from the bottom up, is the “Display replies in threaded form” option. This functions like the previous view, with the key difference being that you have to click on the indented title of a reply to see its content, rather than it being shown by default.
The next two views do not use the indenting function to show who is replying to whom. The “Display replies flat, with newest first” shows each reply in reverse chronological order. In this view, replies are not indented and the newest reply is displayed at the top. The final view, “Display replies flat, with oldest first” is exactly the same with the exception of the most recent post being located at the bottom.
Posting to an Existing Discussion:
Once you have found a thread to which you would like to respond, you can click on the “Reply” link at the bottom right of the discussion thread. You can then compose your post in the “Message” window, using the editor to stylize your text, add links, and -- by clicking on the split keyboard icon -- using even more features such as tables and HTML code.
Once you have composed your post, you will have the option to subscribe to the thread by checking the “Discussion subscription” box. Subscribing to a thread activates a notification. This notification will be sent to you when there is any new response in the discussion thread. You can also add an attachment by clicking on the add file icon or by dragging and dropping a file into the window below.
After you are satisfied with your post, you can click the “Post to forum” button at the bottom. You will see a notice that your post has been added and that you have 30 minutes to edit and make revisions. You can Click “continue” or wait for an automatic redirect to return to the main discussion area. After doing so, you will see your post amongst the series of replies to the original thread.
The placement of your post within the thread will vary based on the view that you selected. Your viewing preference - whether it’s nested, threaded, or flat - will only be visible to you.
Posting a New Discussion
If you find that after reading the existing discussions that interest you and/or apply to your work that none provide an opportunity for you to add your thoughts and feedback, you have the opportunity to post a new discussion to the forum.
We encourage you to use discretion when beginning a new thread, as the most vibrant and engaging threads are those that see participants building upon one another’s ideas and synthesizing various insights. If you would like to start a new thread, however, you can do so by clicking on the “Add a new discussion topic” button above the list of discussion threads on the forum page. From there, you can follow the same process that was outlined earlier in Posting to an Existing Discussion.
It’s likely that your discussion forums will be broken up into different groups. This will especially be the case if you are enrolled in one of the Friday Institute’s MOOC-Ed courses where groups are typically assigned during registration.
If your forum is setup to allow for groups, you will notice a drop down menu that is located directly below the title of the discussion. This menu allows you to view your groups, other groups, and all discussions.
You will have the opportunity to view every post across all discussion threads, but only post or reply to your own group. This allows for discussions to be more manageable and digestible for facilitators and participants alike.
Once you click on the option for your group, you will notice that the “Add a new discussion topic” button appears on the forum page and a “Reply” link appears to the bottom right of each individual message. This will allow you to add a new topic into the group and add replies to the posts of your colleagues.
Participants in previous Friday Institute professional learning courses have found the “Forum administration” option useful to help further customize their forum experience. To access it, click on the “Options” link in the horizontal navigation bar at the top of the page. From there, scroll your mouse over the “Forum administration” link. This will give you the opportunity to subscribe to a forum, subscribe to a specific discussion, or stop tracking your posts.
If you subscribe to a forum, you will receive an email for each discussion that is posted to the forum. If you subscribe to a discussion, you will receive an email for each post that is added to a specific discussion. And if you stop tracking your posts, you will no longer see the number of “unread” posts next to a discussion thread. We have enabled this by default because we have found that a majority of our participants like the opportunity to be able to note the number of unread posts at a quick glance; however, you might find this distracting and want to turn it off. This might, for instance, be the case in a MOOC-Ed environment where there is typically a high volume of discussion posts.
Finally, you have the opportunity to view all of your discussions and posts in one place by clicking on your name in the top right portion of the page. From there, click on the “Profile” link and look for the section titled “Miscellaneous.” You will notice links to “Forum posts” and “Forum discussions” - click on either to view a collection of your forum contributions.
We hope that this tutorial proves helpful and allows you to navigate the discussion forums of The PLACE successfully.
As we noted at the beginning, one of the key features of any professional learning experience with the Friday Institute is the ability for participants to connect, collaborate, and support each other’s learning.
We look forward to you doing just that in our discussions, and please click on the “Support” link in the horizontal navigation bar at the top of the page if you encounter any questions at all. We’ll see you in the discussion!