Facilitating a Discussion Forum

I had the pleasure of facilitating a discussion forum for the learning community of PIDP 3250.  The topic was self-directed/determined/regulated learners. I was really looking forward to a great turn out since all of the students enrolled in this course are themselves self-directed learners with a wealth of knowledge and experience about the topic.

I was not disappointed.

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One thing that I thought worked really well was rolling out the discussion in progressive stages. Rather than starting out with several threads covering multiple questions, or relying on a single thread to carry the discussion over the course of ten days, I decided to open a new thread every few days. I anticipated that this would help keep the conversation going by engaging participants in a different aspect of the topic, with a logical progression through each stage.  The conversation was staged as follows:

  1. Forum Introduction (Day 0)
  2. Creating a body of knowledge (Day 1)
  3. Self-assessing our contributions (Day 4)
  4. Reflecting on our learning (Day 7)
  5. Summarizing our efforts (Day 9)

The other aspect that I thought helped engage participants was sending them a private message once they had contributed to the forum.  The message thanked them for their contributions and invited them to post again once the conversation progressed to the next stage.

Overall, there were more than 80 replies to the forum over the course of 10 days.  There were some phenomenal contributions and I think the learning community really benefited from the open and honest discussion.  We really came together to deliver exemplar peeragogy.

The forum was a demonstration of self-directed learning by having self-directed learners go through the stages of self-directed learning while discussing our own awareness and knowledge of our thinking about self-directed learning.

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It was VERY META.

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