What is a community forum?

A community forum is a space where people can collaborate and share ideas. When used effectively can help to increase course completions by 16x. Within learning technology, it is common common to include community forums for individual cohorts, courses, roles or interests.

Common features of a community forum

  • Multiple community forums for individual cohorts, groups, courses, job roles or other segmentations
  • Automatic creation of communities and user invitations based on course enrolments
  • Users can post content such as text, videos, articles or links
  • Users can reply to and “like” other user’s comments
  • Communities can be private to certain users, or be publicly viewable by anyone on the internet
  • Public communities and user-generated-content can be optimised to be included in search engine results
  • Comments can be approved by automated or human-powered moderators
  • Integration of community-based gamification such as leaderboards
  • Allow users to share elearning badges with associated communities

Benefits of a community forum

  • Studies show that community based learning increases course completions by 16x
  • Learners support one-another which reduces the burden on instructors or other staff members
  • Learners benefit from the sense of belonging which increases engagement, retention and customer satisfaction
  • Learners support and push each other forward through the power of social obligation
  • When fully integrated into your learning technology, can reduce your reliance on third-party community systems like Facebook Groups
  • You can gain valuable search traffic from public communities

Community forum considerations

  • It’s possible to use external community tools such as Facebook Groups or Tribe, but these tools can’t be customised and require users to log into another system which results in a disjointed user experience.
  • It’s important to build community engagement into your curriculum to encourage its use – simply bolting a community onto a course without encouragement to use it leads to poor results.