THU: Learning and Teaching on Asynchronous Forums - Sharing Good Practice (Anita Pilgrim)

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Anita Naoko Pilgrim
31 December 2017

The link above is to my Prezi 'poster', advertising my upcoming presentation on ways of sharing good practice about using asynchronous forums to support learning.

 The Prezi has a full transcript provided, and within the text I have written a transcript for a video I embedded.

I have also uploaded a slideshow of the 'poster' from SlideShare. This is my 'accessible' version - it is less data-heavy than the Prezi (hopefully!) 

Extra content

Using Open Educational Resources to share good practice in moderating student forums.

Using open educational resources to support discussion and dissemination of thinking about how best to use asynchronous forums to support students will allow anyone (teaching or learning), at any level of education, to access and contribute to thinking about forums.

My project focuses on Associate Lecturers (ALs) at the Open University, partly because they are my community (I am one). In addition, ALs are particularly well placed to take advantage of and to develop open educational resources. On the one hand, we have much more experience than other academic teaching staff in using online resources, both open and closed, to support learning. On the other hand, we are geographically separated – scattered across the United Kingdom and beyond; there are few opportunities for us to support each others’ developing practice in face to face contact which others take for granted. Educational resources online have the potential to support our own skills development as well as being the medium through which we deliver much of our teaching.

In our day to day teaching, ALs have closed online forums built into our modules. We assume these are intended to provide students with a ‘café’ space in which they can check notices and chat informally about their studies, but there has been no guidance provided to us about the best ways of using these. Rather we have been left to figure out our own ways of supporting student engagement on forums.

I began my project eager to continue my work looking at best ways to maximise learning on forums. However, they are not an ‘open’ educational resource. I therefore shifted focus to explore ways in which I might circulate findings and encourage collaborative writing among ALs about our work on forums. Rather than just looking at open educational resources, I want to consider closed resources too, and also face to face events. I draw on the module materials to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each. (Up til now, I have not been able to think of any useful examples of open face to face collaborative working; I am of course open to suggestions.)

As part of my project, I begin to consider the nature of academic writing. Traditionally, academic articles begin with a literature review, then may apply this to empirical data in a deductive method to see if further understanding emerges of either the literature or the empirical situation. However in looking to improve our teaching practice, ALs are interested in case study examples and practical exercises which we can copy and develop, not in the hermeneutic or philosophical basis for these. This is not to deny the importance of theory, but to elevate practice in developing praxis in supporting better teaching in Higher Education. I am considering writing up with reviews of literature after the case study.

As a corollary to this, I will think about opportunities offered by writing online compared to writing on paper – for example, hyperlinked website pages allowing readers to jump through material on different pathways.


Anita Naoko Pilgrim
11:21 on 10 January 2018

Embedded Content

Using forums to support teaching - sharing good practice

Using forums to support teaching - sharing good practice

Accessible Alternative
added by Anita Naoko Pilgrim


Denise McDonough
1:20am 10 January 2018

Have you given up the Prezi? It looks very cool up there! The astronaut and the life line is a very compelling message. I think you can you get a PDF export from it. Take screenshot so you can use them in Aminoto if you prefer that tool. Sway imported my Powtoons in seconds which amazed me and then I slowly edited them out to make it better. Do you have a young age group for your forums project and going for the kittens and pink clogs might exclude boys a little bit and this imagery (using Prezi or Aminoto) might be more inclusive and make them feel grown up... I asked the Cloudworks support how I could have an image in my cloud, to make mine look more interesting and it isn't possible! No jpgs or pics - but it occurs to me now I could make make a my pdf a PPT slide show and put it on slideshare so it shows like yours and it will be another technology I learned and tested! Thanks!

Denise McDonough
1:21am 10 January 2018

Sadly the comment box lost all the paragraph formatting and put it in one block!

Anita Naoko Pilgrim
11:18am 10 January 2018 (Edited 11:23am 10 January 2018)

Thank you Denise! 

No, my audience is grown up tutors like me :D! I will try to make some more manly material, the pink kitten video is just a fun example - to lure people to come to my presentation. I know that anything with cats in automatically gets more attention online :D 

I am still using the Prezi as my poster. I also like the astronaut, lifeline thing. Particularly after many of us have struggled on H818! You can export into a pdf direct from Prezi, which allows you to produce a less dataheavy presentation. The main problem with Prezi is that it is so dataheavy that many people can't access it owing to not having the bandwidth for it. I think you used to be able to export it into a powerpoint presentation too, but that function seems to have disappeared. I'll try to find out. When I have written my (late!) assignment!!! :eeeeek: 


Mr Jonathan G Brown
2:38pm 18 January 2018

I think this is such an important issue at the moment, Anita - educational institutions are increasingly setting up their own VLEs with integrated forums, but then can't work out why the students don't seem to be using them.  Have you any tips about what good practice in moderating student forums looks like?  For my project, I want my learning resource to rely heavily on interaction between participants (fellow teachers, in this case) via a built-in forum; could you suggest anything I could implement from the outset that could encourage forum use, or is there anything in particular you'd avoid?

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