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Duking it out – Forum Style

September 27, 2008

Well let the fur fly in here….

I wish I was able to give an impartial view of the activity in the CCK08 moodle forums, but my view is biased as I am a frequent-flyer participant in them. Reading access is wide-open, and for my readers that are not aware of this course, here is the link:

To post or comment in the forum, all you need to do is sign up (free).


First off, the forums were created by the course facilitators Stephen Downes and George Siemens. There are some 539 participants, many of whom have not written anything other than introductory posts. A huge debate is ongoing about this. Stephen has asserted that the reason for this is that several persons have monopolized the discussions, and consequently the others have ‘fled to the blogs’, where, in Stephen’s view, a much better learning experience is taking place. He is a ‘distributed-knowledge pusher’, and the blogs fit his ontology better than the forums, where the distribution of knowledge in the form of written participation is less.

The counter view, supported by myself, is that the forums are rich in dialogue and there is little of interest in the blogs (especially this one).  Maybe knowledge is not so distributed, as Stephen likes to believe.

Anyway, here is a sample of the two discussion types so far, you be the judge:

FORUM DISCUSSION POST (simulated – names withheld)

A.  You are wrong and I am right!

B. Clarify that, you troll!

A. I don’t have too, I am fleeing to the blogs, for peace and comfort

B. Chicken-*&^%

A. You will die in dis-connect hell!  Curse you, fisk-head!

C. Now now, let’s not fight in here.

A. Shut the *&^% up

B. Told you so, you guys all hate each other!

INDIVIDUAL BLOGS  (simulated, names withheld)

A. Oh, what a wonderful idea!

B. Thank you, I’ve been using rocks in my garden for many years.

A. Yes, very nice blend with the chosen plants.

C. The waterfall is so soothing.

D. How about that course?

A. Yes, I see it is going well.

B. Yes, many people there.

C. Oh, look, a butterfly!



Which do you prefer?  Please vote by way of comment. The results of this quantitative study will be posted in the forums October 3rd.


From → Uncategorized

  1. I can’t vote on this, as I haven’t seen it because I post too much on the forums to be allowed out into polite blog-society 😉

  2. Great satire…
    I think…
    Therefore I am.
    On a blog.

  3. pingadohtor permalink

    hah, as we are posting, then, doesn’t that mean blogs have merit?

    A blog is like….writing an essay
    A forum is like…sitting over coffee thrashing it out

    They both have merit;therfore, I abstain.

  4. Very witty and possibly somewhat accurate in a generalized sort of way!

  5. I don’t think that it is surprising that the conversations on blogs and forums are qualitatively different. It comes down to ownership. An individual ‘owns’ his or her blog while the ‘ownership’ of a forum is more ambiguous.

    Visiting a blog is like visiting someone in their home. It would be rude, though not unheard of, to attack your host. As a result the types of conversations are generally going to be fairly cordial. That’s not to say there won’t be disagreement, it just usually tends to be civil.

    Now in a forum if you go toe-to-toe with someone you are not obviously insulting your host.

    There is also the question of intervention. Usually there is very little intervention/moderation in a forum. Blogs, by their nature, are moderated. I own my blog so I have a say on what I will allow to happen there. On some blogs I have read comment threads where the blog host basically says, “look guy, enough of this” and shuts down the thread.

    In forums you are going to find people fleeing if they feel that they are going to be personally attacked for their comments, or if they find the tone just too combative. For others, this is exactly the type of environment in which they thrive. If you like the forums and learn best there–great, go knock your socks off! That others may prefer the more moderate pace of the blogs, well that’s just how they learn best. As pingadohtor says above, “They both have merit” Having said that, I prefer blogs.

  6. You’re right, some of the blogs are precisely that fatuous. But in fairness, there are several that are very thoughtful and critical. And my point is that they are the same people posting on the forums with intelligent posts, too.

  7. mmvcentro permalink

    I am one of the hundreds that do not post much at the forums and here I am at a blog. 🙂

    Why I don’t post?
    Well, I knew squat about Connectivism four weeks ago, I do not have yet interesting things to say or means to post a critic.

    Did I fee the forum last week?

    Not because of the “rude” comments, because of the high level of the language used in the debates. I don’t understand, period.

    Here I found the same critics but in a more understandable language. Thanks Ken. I agree with Claire, I feel I am at Ken’s oline house and I want to be polite.
    Why? I am trying to make sense of what I am reading and critics are helping me a lot, I do not want to be banned from his house.

    In a sense, I am understanding more at the blogs; I glimpse the richness in the forum but it is still out of my reach. So until my literacy level rises, sometime in the future I hope, I prefer blogs.

    See you around. Love: Maru

  8. deadvocate permalink

    Hello Maru. You are welcome in my house anytime. I agree with you, Claire has expressed the differences between blogs and forums very well. This is my place for writing my thoughts and sharing with others, and I feel a stronger sense of ownership. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us here.


  9. Bradley Shoebottom permalink


    It like the tit a tat approach of forums as the conversationalists in there oftern bring new ideas, approaches etc and they challenege me to “learn more”. People are willing to stand there ground there. Reminds me of Friday afternoon in the graduate house somewhere after 2 beers but before 8.
    Blogs I find are more intellectual with self reflection etc going on. I have also vented in my blog about the course because I know certian people are tracking it. There for it will get some attention, but not totally embarrassing a person like can happen in the forum.

  10. deadvocate permalink

    Hi Bradley

    Yes, I can’t imagine what it would be like after 8 beers!

  11. Adolmesselo permalink

    I am here at a forum newcomer. Until I read and deal with the forum.
    Let’s learn!

  12. Shoopjeobby permalink

    This look interesting,so far.
    If there are any real people here looking to network, leave me a post.
    Oh, and yes I’m a real person LOL.


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