3.5 Asynchronous forums
Most modules have several asynchronous forums to which students have access; in some instances, the forums are moderated by tutors. These forums might be used as noticeboards to inform groups of students about forthcoming learning events – these are tutorials - and to run collaborative activities as directed by the module team.
For example, on a level 1 module, TM111 – Introduction to Computing and IT 1, there are regional forums which are used for collaborative activities – students are encouraged to work together to develop algorithms and implement them. There are often tutor-group forums, a space available only to students in that group, and their tutor. These forums are often used for students to get to know others in their tutor group.
At level 1 these are often geographically based so they might be chatting to people from the same town; informal face-to-face support groups can grow from tutor group forums.
Online forums are a different way of supporting learners and we provide training on how to use them effectively. They are a way in which our students can work collaboratively; employers often look for evidence of group working skills and we can develop and promote them using forums. They also allow students to participate at a time which suits them within a predefined activity window, this works well for people whose work patterns mean that attending synchronous events is not possible.
On many STEM modules, there are module-wide forums offering technical help. These form a resource for tutors as it means that tutors need not be experts on everything but can direct students to peer and expert support.