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Why do some online forums fly while others never get off the ground?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 20 Nov 2011, 18:52
I was in a ListServ group in 2001 that worked, probably for the novelty factor. A decade later and on my fourth module in 22 months I expect all forums to work, most of the time.

What matters?

Plan for success. The learning design, the planning is crucial. There need to be certain cues, milestones, obligations and opportunities.

Have the right tutor. Training and experience is one thing, personality is another. As in real life they must have the educator's desire to support the right environment, whoever turns up and however it pans out.

Be a team player and whether you are completely new to this or an old hand, play your part.

Clock in regularly, and let people know you are around if only to say 'hi' - especially when you have nothing to say - say so! Tip: no one else can tell if you are or have been present.

Give it a go. Be prepared to make mistakes. Ask a fellow student, the responses you get here are always spot on.

Make friends.

(do a touch typing course! This is talking with your fingertips).

Use email, Skype and Google+ too.

Have a 'water -cooler' to chat in your tutor group away from the cut and thrust of course materials.
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Picture of ROSIE Rushton-Stone

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I'm sure it's reaching a point where a psychology book should be written on OU forums.  Or any forums for that matter.  It seems to come up more than any other topic.  It's interesting.
Picture of Sheena Bradley

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Sounds like a great plan. Seriously. Why do so few 'sign up' to the contract?
Design Museum

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It takes a certain mix of people, their motivation, the design and presentation of the week's activities, even some guidance to keep people in one place rather than splitting off. A unmoderated group say in Linked in may require 500 members for there to be 5 regulars and up to 50 regularly looking in. The Harvard Business Review has over 1,000,000! Yet I've been part of a six person subgroup that had all six of us taking part most days fir two weeks (in H808), whereas I had a previous subgroup (in H807) where 3 people made promises to contribute but still did nothing all. There needs to be a common sense of purpose and obligation, as well as availability.