Supporting your students

How to support your students

Forums are meant to be a great way to create a sense of community and to get students to interact with each other, share ideas and drive a discussion online. However, as stated previously, they can also be challenging to get the right balance of engagement. There are a few things that you can do to support your students in engaging with forums.

Set expectations around posts

Once you have created the forum activity, set expectations with students to know what level of participation is required from them. You need to provide clear instructions on your expectations of the activity, such as the purpose and value of the activity, how you want them to post (frequency and/or quality), word count if any, language and writing style, and whether you are grading the forum.

This would also be a good time to let them know your own level of engagement, whether they can expect you to respond to posts or how you will provide feedback.

Provide guidelines for forum etiquette

When setting expectations, you can take the opportunity to discuss what constitutes respectful and positive behaviours when posting online. Having a guide on forum etiquette can be very helpful to students and limit any potential conflict. You can create this guide and share it with students or you can get students involved in setting up the forum etiquette. The latter helps students take ownership of their behaviour. Here is an example of a Forum etiquette guide.

Start with an icebreaker activity

Another great way to start using the Forum activity is with an icebreaker activity that gets students comfortable with posting without any pressure to perform. Start with a fun activity that will make them want to engage with you and others. It can be as simple as asking students to post their favorite clip from a movie or to get them to describe a person that inspires them and have others guess. Think of activities that are slightly open ended where you can get some kind of dialogue going. Simply introducing themselves may not be enough to garner a meaningful dialogue.

Tell students how to subscribe to a forum

Encourage students to subscribe to a forum to receive notifications of new forum posts and to make sure not to miss out on any key information. Share the link below Moodle: Forums to let them know how to set their notifications and subscriptions.

Encourage participation by being present online

For forums to be successful, there needs to be a certain level of participation and presence from your part. You can do this by introducing yourself in a forum, participating in the icebreaker activity, providing feedback to questions, posing probing questions and sp forth. The key is to find the right balance between letting students discuss amongst themselves and moderating the discussion to encourage discussion or correct any misinformation.

Another way you can support students is by sending private messages to students who haven’t contributed much and encourage them to get involved. Some students might be shy or reluctant to participate early on, so nudging them might encourage participation.

What resources and services are available to students

Moodle: Forums

This Monash Library guide provides students with an overview of how to post, edit, and start a new discussion in a Moodle Forum. This is a great resource to help students familiarise themselves with the activity and its functionalities.

Student Academic Success: Academic English

Share this link so that students can obtain support around academic English usage. This will improve their academic writing to help reduce any unintentional breaches of academic integrity.

Research and Learning Online

The Library’s portal contains some great resources for students to help them with their assessment tasks.

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