Discussion forums transform the experience of taking a MOOC into a group activity and create a course community. With hundreds of discussion threads, the course team is not obligated to answer every question posted in the forums. However, Online Learning has found that the instructors and TAs who participate on the forums and interact with students on a personal level tend to have higher instructor ratings.
Expected Commitment: 2-3 hours weekly for a course team to respond to –
- Specific content-focused questions/threads
- Technical questions about the learning platform (ex. grading function error)
- General trends found across multiple threads worthy of an instructor’s response
Despite a MOOC community’s common goal of learning, tough situations may arise on the discussion forums with regards to offensive comments and plagiarism. To stop these problems from arising, it is best to clearly define discussion forum etiquette and MOOC plagiarism for how students should conduct themselves on the forum to promote healthy discussion. This may involve direction specific to a course’s content as well as general recognition of a MOOC’s global scope and its sense of inclusion.
Deleting a Thread
Though instructors and CAs have the capability to delete a post or thread, Online Learning does not endorse deleting learner-contributed content. This is a general guideline and is malleable given the severity of a specific case, but there are measures to take to both prevent and resolve offensive posts. Setting clear expectations for discussion etiquette is key to preventing offensive posts from occurring. Reminding learners of the platforms code of conduct can also be helpful. However, if an offensive thread already exists, your admin access will allow you to identify the poster (even if he or she posts anonymously). You may then address their behavior directly, and potentially remove them from the course. Please contact Online Learning before deleting and thread or removing a user.