Burlap sack: eClass forums in online discussion

There are few components of online learning I loathe as much as forums

Although eClass isn’t a perfect platform to begin with, it still has its redeeming features. Forums is not one of them.

At this point in the semester, everyone has become well acquainted with eClass, and yet I still have no clue how to use forums. I hate the constant stream of notifications I get from forums, but I hesitate to turn off my subscription because of the nagging feeling of ‘one day I’ll miss something really important.’ One day I’ll miss the secret assignment that everyone did but me, or I’ll skip the secret midterm that was only available to premium forum subscribers. 

It doesn’t help that some professors seem to use eClass forum posts to communicate important information with students. I’ll take a bold stance and state my views: that’s not great.

One of my biggest frustrations about forums is that, even when responses are critical to completing an assignment within time constraints, recipients won’t get an email notification. It seems that the moderators of these classes can automatically subscribe everyone to forums, but students starting a new discussion can’t do the same. What’s the harm? You’re already sending out what feels like a million emails a day to tell me someone responded ‘yes’ on a forum I forgot to unsubscribe from, so why not now?

Somehow I’m subscribed to forums I don’t even remember subscribing to, and yet my lab partners don’t share the same automatic fate. The pain of waiting for responses from people who might live in different time zones is excruciating, especially when they may not reply at all.

I find it even more dreadful when professors require students to post in a forum discussion. The discussions can get lost so easily with how many posts there will be, especially if the instructor combines class shells for multiple groups. Also, the number indicating the ‘new posts’ that haven’t been read doesn’t differentiate between posts and replies, or even students and professors.

That becomes more problematic when you’re desperately sifting through hundreds of forum posts with vague titles for answers about your midterm. Maybe this isn’t even a fault of eClass and rather that of its users, but the vagueness of topic titles can be confusing and deter overall search efficiency. 

Surely there must be a better way to ask questions or contact classmates through eClass other than forums. If there is, it must’ve been an exclusive that I missed after unsubscribing from one of the aforementioned forums. Either way, I won’t be scrolling through eClass forums for fun anytime soon.

Jin He

Jin is a volunteer writer for the Gateway. If not sleeping, she can often be found supporting local artisans and sporting some wicked earrings.

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