Four Types of Discussion Forums

Forums are a useful tool that can engage all participants of your online classroom. Deciding which type of forum to apply can affect the flow of your discussion. Each forum type has different posting parameters that can require students to answer a single question without first reading what others have posted or allow students to freely express themselves by creating new threads. There are four kinds of forums that instructors can choose when adding this activity to their course.

Standard Forum for General Use: This format is the type of forum that is most familiar to instructors and students. This is what you typically see on many Web sites. Students can post responses to an instructor’s topic, post their own topics and respond to everyone’s postings. All responses are visible to everyone.

Single Simple Discussion: An instructor posts a topic into the forum, and this is the only topic to which students can respond. All responses are visible at all times.

Q&A Forum: Similar to the simple discussion but with one catch: when an instructor posts a question within this forum, other students’ replies to the question are not visible until the student responds in the forum. If Suzie is the first to respond to the forum topic, then she will be able to see her response and everyone else’s post after hers. If a fellow student, let’s call him Barry, has yet to respond to the forum topic, he will not see Suzie’s responses until he posts his own. This type of forum entices students to come up with their own ideas instead of simply rehashing what others have posted.

Each Person Posts One Discussion: Once an instructor posts the forum instructions, each student can then start one thread in response. Students can then respond to the postings of others.

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