3250 – Discussion Forum – moderator experience

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For PIDP 3250, we were asked to moderate an online discussion forum.  My first thought here was OMG! Really? I don’t know how to do this. What do I do and how do I do it? Where do I start and where do I find out what to do? Needless to say, I was very worried.   The course coordinator, Doug was very good and gave me a few pointers.  He also defined my role to be one of a ‘facilitator of discussion’ using the assigned topic.  I referred to his email instruction a few times during the active forum.

I started with doing research on my topic of classroom management. I read a few articles and reviewed this topic from my PIDP 3100 course materials.  I felt that I understood the topic at a level where I could moderate a discussion.

Next, I wrote down several discussion topics related to classroom management. I planned to start my discussion with one topic and as the topic was exhausted, move to another topic.   Once the first topic was discussed, the direction of the forum changed in a way that my original topics did not seem applicable. I had to modify my topics for discussion accordingly. 

I posted my first topic asking peers to share their classroom management concerns. I did define the topic in order to start colleagues thinking along the same line. Much to my surprise, many different points of concern and discussion arose. It was hard not to just post an opinion and at times, I couldn’t resist. I had to keep in mind that my role is to get everyone thinking and talking.  It was also a struggle at times as I felt that we had exhausted all points. When this happened, I worked on moving the discussion to a different classroom management topic.

Overall, this was challenging and fun.  If I had to do it again, I would do the same things but I feel I will be more effective as I know what to expect, how people respond to questions, what type of questions get people involved/thinking.

At the end, we were asked to submit a forum summary. This was something new as well. I totalled all responses, formulated a statistical look at the references and responses. I also devised a list of future references that were offered by peers.   The last part of the summary is a discussion of the  main points for each topic.  This was very difficult as I went through all research, articles, and points of view.  It took a lot of time and was very challenging to organize.  

At the end of this exercise, I am very appreciative of the experience and hope to apply it in my own future teaching. I also learned how to communicate as a moderator and participant (in other forums) in an online forum which was something I had not done in the past.

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