Forum .LRN Q&A: Re: Forums Review by the UAB (Forums Enhancement Text)

(UAB document converted from word)

UAB Forums Enhancements Recommendations April 2004

For Admins:
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1) MOVE functionality (Martin’s)
2) Ratings: a star system so that one could rate a thread as helpful or not and sort accordingly.

For All Users:
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3) Threading layout/Display choices: expand/collapse sub-headers and bodies on demand

Ex: On SSV1, admin had three display options:
1) expand tree in summarized form;
2) expand and show message bodies and
3) expand one level. Additionally, the user could customize the display.
4) Clean Print feature: small type printing without indentations, a simple header for each contributor and none of the navigation links
5) Sophisticated Sorting: listing of threads that sorts by author, date, topic and a way of making one’s favorites and sorting accordingly.
6) Thread Topic Type/Protocol: Integrated into the context-dependent help, whereby the one starting the thread might define where he or she would like to go and so help people determine the nature and form or protocols of their contributions, such as: discover, debate, problem-solving, organizing an action. Here I am imagining wizards or drop down menus that ask "where do you want to go with this?", a link to discussions of especially profitable forums, and a wiki functionality such that users could develop a meta-commentary. The long-range plan here is to make a system that learns from its users and which organizes that learning in the manner of developing "lms literacy".
7) Meta-commentary feature for didactic purposes: the thread’s author or other user can comment on what they are reading, similar to the protocol feature above except that the first might serve as a template function and a meta-commentary serves a more didactic function.
8) Flagging as new: indication of what posts have been read/not read for each user per login session OR new since last login.
9) Text Entry improvements: user specified line breaks and system provided line wrapping must work transparently together; typing a long string of text or pasting it that is intended to be line wrapped stays line wrapped; pasting a prepared text preserving line breaks, including quotations without being forced to do line breaks manually, and including long URLs without getting the thread indentation spoilt; characters that look like html magic characters without being censored or causing trouble.; a spellchecker
10) Understandability/Window Pane arrangement: improve the UI so that the forums overview page including its layout, terminology and ergonomy makes sense and is more intuitive to users. For example, create a narrow reading pane and put the navigation/breadcrumb pane trail in the left pane (we have examples of this to show).
11) Improved Alerts: flexible and dynamic notification intervals, frequency of time of day, deep linking to the distinct posting, indication of attachments, breadcrumb tagging and sorting of bulk alerts.

I would like to note which of these features I consider absolutely essential for discussion-oriented teaching situation like my own:

1, 3, 5, 8, 9 and 7(perhaps)

The rest of the points I would consider secondary to those above and they could be put on hold until the points above have been implemented.