In this one-click-away connected world, it has become very important to couple web-based trainings (WBTs) with strong collaborative eLearning mechanisms. Like before, we can no longer offer WBTs as a standalone product. Peer learning in the virtual space is picking up fast with active facilitation from instructors or Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). The scope of work for SMEs has gone beyond just providing one-time content. Besides, a number of eLearning platforms have emerged giving many talented SMEs the control to involve learners in various ways. Many SMEs are now engaging with their online learners through discussion forums.
It is one thing to technically build a discussion forum with different features and quite another to run it successfully. It needs a whole lot of intent and enterprise on part of the moderator. In the ideal scenario, the moderator should be the SME. Imagine a classroom. The teacher delivers her lecture engaging students as part of the teaching. There is no second person to take the responsibility to involve the students. eLearning should not be any different on this principle.
Therefore, the SME-moderator can prepare the grounds for a collaborative eLearning experience in a number of ways. It could be by:
- Encouraging learners to ask questions in the forum
- Answering the questions from an experts’ standpoint
- Using the polling feature to generate opinion
- Posting updates, new case studies, and relevant news, videos, and articles
- Posting announcements of relevant events, seminars, and workshops
- Creating different threads to address various topics of interest
- Creating contests with simple giveaways, and so on
A good moderator ensures that the discussions are informative, positive, and going “somewhere.” To ensure decorum in the forum, the moderator can set up guidelines. It will be the moderator’s responsibility to familiarize participants with the guidelines.
What are the benefits of collaborative eLearning?
Benefit for content creators: A collaborative eLearning environment is very beneficial in case of content that changes often. It is possible that as you are getting ready to launch a course, updates on it have begun to arrive. An effective way to announce the updates would be to use the discussion forum. This relieves you of the pressure to make frequent updates to the e Learning videos. You can instead plan and have updates pile up for a while before you implement one big update.
Over time, an approach of this sort helps you gain the trust of your learners. There’s no stopping you then from becoming their most desired eLearning provider.
Benefit for SMEs: SMEs too benefit from moderating discussion forums. The quality of the SME’s moderation and inputs helps build on the credibility of the person as an instructor. So, you must try convincing your SME to actively moderate discussion forums. If your SME is successful in establishing great learner engagement, your entire team and product is set up for success.
The desire for a new component has to follow an examination of why your learners may need it and how they can benefit from it. This will help you arrive at the right combination of features to build into the discussion forum. Accordingly, you will need to select and/or customize your Learning Management System (LMS). Thus, we can use the LMS effectively for not only hosting and tracking progress of the course but also to aid collaborative eLearning.