What are Online Blogs/ Forums?
Online forums are Apps/ websites that are easy to use, customizable, remotely hosted by the instructor, and they are environmentally friendly! Instructors can simply communicate with students, create a course calendar, and post an update using these forums. Another advantage is that forums and blogs make students love homework and assignments, and they get motivated to complete the assigned tasks in time.
Where can forums be applied?
Online forums/ blogs can be an excellent way to enhance learners’ ‘online’ communication skills. They work well within EAP programs and also ESL. I had used free forums when I was teaching a University Bridge program to International students. In that programs, the learners would regularly train for three months before going to a Canadian College/ University. During that time, I noticed the lack of online etiquettes and that the students had no past formal experience with online assignments. I was concerned as at most colleges and universities in Canada there are online platforms where course instructors would communicate with the students posting grades, announcements, assignments, deadlines, etc. I came up with the idea of initializing a form for our program so the students would get to go through this experience and train before having to go through this formally when they are overwhelmed with everything else. The forum was free and user-friendly, I set a private course forum atwww.freeforums.net and started from there. When I began to teach LINC/ ESL programs, I still used forums/ blogs as alternative ways of assigning homework and because I believe that each context is unique, I have assigned different types of and less complicated topics, and I would allow more time for the students to complete the tasks. With the implementation of Portfolio Based Assessment for Learning, I am now researching how forums and blogs would fit in this approach to assessment.
Examples of free forums and blogs
There are many free forums and blogs you could use for your students. I found the first two more user-friendly with more features and less complex to register and join. For these two, you can set your group privacy and choose a theme, as well as embed videos or audios in a very simple way.
Posts here are published by myself and other authors or selected from other websites.