Too many online discussion groups are really just online bulletin boards: a place to put up some information, but not discuss it. If that’s all you want from your online group – a place to disseminate information one way, from messenger to audience – that’s fine. But if you want more… what does “more” look like? And how do you get to “more”?
|bulletin board / announcement board content:
- announcements about events, policies, reports, new staff appointments, etc.
- reminders about policies, events, reports, etc.
- most content generated by 1 – 5 people; most staff & volunteers in the program don’t generate content (and may not even read it)
- content is available elsewhere/is not unique to the forum
|discussion forum content
- people responding to comments and reminders
- people asking questions
- people inviting discussion or debate about specific topics
- content generated by a variety of people, including staff members of the programs tied to the discussion forum
- there is content that is not available anywhere else, meaning the forum is essential, not just a repeat of announcements from newsletters, etc.
- unique content is essential; forum members need it for their work
|bulletin board / announcement board method:
- ad hoc, as events happen, policies and reports are created/updated, etc.
|discussion forum method:
- questions are regularly introduced, in a strategic manner, particularly when questions and discussions aren’t happening organically
- specific people are contacted and asked to respond to a question, announcement, debate, etc.
- discussion forum is highlighted (not just mentioned) during webinars, onsite workshops, onsite events, and attendees are invited to continue discussion on a specific place on the forum.
- specific, current threads in the discussion forum are highlighted in meetings, newsletters, reports, etc.
Share your thoughts! And please see the wiki at http://knowledgenetworks.wikispaces.com/ for advice on how to make a transition from an announcement/bulletin board to a discussion forum.