Moderation of the discussion forums is one of the strategies to achieve engagement in a MOOC. In the recently concluded course on use of Smartboards we were fortunate to have 7 Discussion Forum Moderators (DFMs). They are: Daisy Wadhwa, K. Pavya, Sujata Khadilkar, Jatin Ambasana, Ambily Joseph, Ajita Deshmukh, and Vijaya Rama Raju. I am going to narrate various strategies which were implemented during the course by these DFMs.
We started by conducting an online meeting of all the moderators and instructors using WhatsApp group call. I gave them examples of typical questions which can be expected in the Forum and what could be the answers. Later we also created a schedule where in every DFM was assigned a day in a week to respond to the queries.
When moderators started answering the queries they often used to contact our group for clarifications and then go out to the forum to give the answer. This continued for a week and we had another meeting to assess our performance. It was found that the queries were quite low during the preparatory week. We geared up for the actual course to start so that there could be more queries coming in.
The next week content was about the technical features of the SmartBoards, therefore the queries were naturally about these features, such as: how to change the tip of the pen; how to change the colour of the ink; how to export or import a file; attach a USB pen drive; etc. Some of the moderators where giving explanation about the process while some others were pointing them to the videos where these actions were explained better. One of the DFMs: Prof. Vijay Ramaraju decided to address this queries in an innovative mentor. He created series of screenshots showing the exact steps and started posting them. Learners not only knew the steps but they could actually see the steps in the images. This was found unique as well as useful by the participants and we received positive feedback for these submissions.
Encouraged by this response I requested all the moderators to actually go to a Institute where Smartboards were installed. I suggested that they can actually record a video of how that particular query can be solved by presenting it using the smart board itself. This explanation could be recorded on a basic video On the mobile phones so that we can prove it to the learners that it is not necessary to have high end cameras and microphones when you want to clarify doubts such as these.
Many of the moderators found out Institute within their reach and actually visited them. We now have videos by Prof. Jatin Ambasana who actually travelled over to a place which was more than 150 kilometres away just to create these videos.
What I feel here is that because of that effort of Prof. Vijay and Prof. Jatin, we now have a video explanation of the frequently asked questions on the discussion forum. This will be extremely useful going forward when we actually have reason of the courses in future.