Building confidence in using online learning forums
Building confidence in using online learning forums

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Building confidence in using online learning forums

5 Getting the conversation going: starting your own thread

Online learning forums are much livelier places when the participants, rather than simply the tutor, are actively involved. One of the best ways of doing this is to start a discussion yourself. But how can you write a post that encourages other people to respond?

One way to encourage responses is to ask a question. It might be a fairly straightforward question about assessments or tutorials. Or it could be a question about a specific topic, idea or concept that you have been reading about and want to discuss further with the rest of the group.

To start a thread, some question types work better than others. Read Box 1, which outlines two types of question. Then work through Activity 4.

Box 1 Open and closed questions

  • A closed question is one to which it’s only really possible to answer with one or two words: ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘don’t know’. For example, ‘Do you like sport?’ or ‘Do you play sport?’ are both examples of closed questions as anyone can simply answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
  • An open question encourages a longer response. For example, ‘How do you feel about playing sport?’ or ‘What’s your view about playing sport?’ are both open questions and will generally encourage a longer response than simply a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’.

Activity 4 Asking questions

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Decide whether each question below is an open or a closed question. If the question is closed, try rewriting it as an open question in the box provided.

  • Was Elizabeth I the last surviving child of Henry VIII?

a. 

Open


b. 

Closed


The correct answer is b.

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Discussion

Open example: What were the main issues around the succession after Henry VIII died?

  • Does Mozart’s reputation as a great composer continue today?

a. 

Open


b. 

Closed


The correct answer is b.

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Discussion

Open example: Why do you think Mozart’s reputation as a great composer continues today?

  • What do you think is a traditional belief?

a. 

Open


b. 

Closed


The correct answer is a.

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Discussion

This is an example of an open question.

  • I’m really struggling to get going on this assignment, how do you plan your essays?

a. 

Open


b. 

Closed


The correct answer is a.

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Discussion

This is an example of an open question.

As you can see, open questions generate more detailed responses and encourage livelier discussion than closed ones. Now that you have considered how to start a conversation on an online learning forum, you will move on to thinking about a different kind of post. This is one where you reply to a post added by someone else, in a thread that either they or the tutor has set up.

UOF_1

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