Archive for the ‘Discussion Forums’ Category

The new WikiStudent is now live

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

The new WikiStudent, for Unisa students, went live a couple of weeks ago. The URL:

We need Unisa students to become editors to help fill in the content - see the new site for how to join.

This blog is no longer being updated. You can browse the archives if you’re interested in how WikiStudent was re-built.

Nobody wants discussion forums

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

I never knew how popular discussion forums would be because the old site never had them. Now that I’ve introduced this blog with it’s own “Discussion forums” category and have been monitoring the traffic to each category, I can tell you that the “Unisa past papers” and “Download study notes” ones are the most visited, while nobody seems interested in reading about discussion forums.So now I’m leaning towards my original opinion that we don’t really need discussion forums. I used to be against them for two main reasons:

  1. It’s a hassle arranging for moderators
  2. Forums wouldn’t be used for their intended purpose. i.e. meaningful discussions about the subject

And now I have a third reason: students don’t seem to be looking for forums! Sure, if you provide them they will be used. But, and this is key, think about what forums are used for. When I was a student, the Unisa forums were mainly filled with posts asking for solutions to assignments, past papers, notes, etc. and hardly anybody was discussing the work. So if I can provide what people are asking for in the forums then we don’t need these forums, not so?

It will take a lot to persuade me to introduce discussion forums now, but you can try ;-)

Progress on the forum

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Good news! I’ve found a decent discussion forum module for WikiStudent. It’s called Newbbex and here is the icon:


There was a newer discussion forum component available (X-Forum) for $30, so no thanks! (I don’t know when Xoops started introducing commercial software… One of the reasons I preferred it to Joomla was because everything was free. Not anymore. Shucks.)

I played around with this Xoops module and have organised the forum structure: At the top level you will have subject categories (E.g Afrikaans), then the forums (E.g. AFK101-Q, AFK102-R), then the forum topics (E.g. Problems with assignment 1).

If all goes well on the live server, WikiStudent will be using Newbbex. If not, I’ll have to either find something ancient but free (i.e. pre-2008), or new and $30.

Two things to note:

  1. I am going to require a wiki page for a Unisa module, before a corresponding discussion forum is created.
  2. Every forum will have to have at least two moderators – preferably students currently registered for the module.

Discussion forums? Hmmm

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Initially I was against introducing discussion forums on WikiStudent, for the sole reason that it would require more admin on my part. But now I am reconsidering. The wiki is sufficient for all module-specific information, but it doesn’t allow students to discuss current questions, e.g. problems they’re having in their assignments, so it looks like there definitely is a place for discussion forums. My one worry is that they won’t be used as intended.

Years ago when I was studying I remember the forums being filled with posts asking for Unisa exam papers, textbooks, notes, etc. and hardly anybody writing about the work. On WikiStudent you will be able to find past papers, textbooks, and study notes on other sections of the site, and general module info on the wiki, so will there be anything left to discuss?

I also don’t want to create a lot of empty forums, and then wait for someone to come up with a first post. Rather, my idea is to have the discussion forum section available, and if a student wants to start one for one of their modules, they can ask for it and also be responsible for moderating it. That should work well… I hope!