The online forums instructional strategy.

Forums come in two variations :

1) Panel

2) Symposium

The panel is a small group of subject matter experts (around 3 to 6 people) who sit (or sit virtually) in front of an audience and carry on a purposeful conversation on a topic brought up by the moderator (or the instructor). Audience interaction is usually not available.

Ideas for application:

  1. Gather a group of experts, colleagues, peers, or equally competent subject area gurus.
  2. Create a discussion topic related to your class, subject, concept, or chapter section.
  3. Pose a question to the panel in the discussion board.
  4. Allow the panel to post their thoughts.
  5. Guide the panel through your questions or areas in which you feel the students should be concentrating on the most.
  6. Students can watch the discussion taking place.
  7. When the discussion has ended, pose a follow up question to the students and require them to answer your question and discuss with other students in the discussion board.

*Note: Synchronous chat rooms can also be used, however the logistics of gathering 3 or more working professionals in a room at the same time to type responses to questions can often be time consuming and hard to manage. In a discussion board, the experts have more time to respond, think about their experiences, and post their thoughts without being pressed for time.

The symposium involves a small group (around 2 to 5 people) of experts in a given subject area who give presentations and take questions from the audience afterwards. They then move on to the next layer related to that subject area. The process is repeated. Students are allowed to “pick the brains” of the subject experts so they can gather a deeper understanding of the material seen through the eyes of someone working in the field.

Ideas for application:

  1. Gather a group of experts, colleagues, peers, or equally competent subject area gurus.
  2. Create a discussion topic related to your class, subject, concept, or chapter section.
  3. Allow the experts to present the subject in the discussion board. You may choose to moderate and guide the experts with questions.
  4. When the experts have finished their presentations and discussion, open the discussion to students so they can ask questions of the experts.