E-learning forums trigger some extreme reactions – you'll either love them, or hate them.

Some people just love electronic discussion boards. They see e-learning forums as a natural extension of emails and texting. And they get real value out of talking to other learners – it’s a great way to avoid feeling lonely online.

But other people really hate the forums. They seriously resent having to post online comments, and see the whole thing as a total waste of time.

How do you feel about e-learning forums?

If you love using electronic discussion boards, you really don’t need to read this post. You’re already on board.

But if you’re not a big fan, read on. Maybe you’ll get to like them at least a little bit more.

E-learning forums are often a compulsory part of your course. Even so, it’s pretty common to put off posting messages. There are 4 reasons you might not want to.

1. You’re worried you might look stupid

This fear doesn’t really have legs, and here’s why.

When you learn online, chances are you’ll never actually meet most of your fellow students, or your tutor. So why worry about making a fool of yourself in front of people you don’t even know?

Think about it: no-one’s watching you – e-learning means an end to performance anxiety!

2. Your answer might be “wrong”

Electronic discussion boards are called that for a reason. They give you the chance to discuss topics and ideas. They’re not called exam boards. Or try-to-fail-you boards.

There’s usually a very broad spectrum of “right” answers out there – mostly your tutor is looking for evidence that you’ve given the key concepts some thought.

In discussions like these, there are generally no “right” or “wrong” answers – just useful contributions.

3. The technology side of e-learning forums is nerve-wracking

Have you ever posted a message in an online forum, somewhere on the internet? E-learning forums are pretty much the same thing. The technology's no more complicated than texting or sending an email, either.

If you need some help with the technical side of things, there are three places you can go for help:

• Your starter pack, which may include detailed instructions on how to post a message
• Online help screens, or the tutorials available through your Learning Management System
• The IT Help Desk – these guys help with queries like this all the time.

Post a message or two, and you’ll learn first-hand how easy it is. And now you know that if you do need some help with the details, there’s plenty available.

4. You think electronic discussion boards are a waste of time

E-learning forums are partly an attempt to replace the face-to-face tutorials you get in traditional learning. They give learners the chance to discuss the material, and interact.

They’re not perfect, it’s true.

But they do offer a genuine opportunity to dig a little deeper into the material you’re studying, to offer your own ideas, and to benefit from hearing what other learners think. The process can really develop your understanding of the topic.

E-learning forums don’t have to cause you stress. They have a legit function, and they can add an extra dimension to your learning experience.

Author's Bio: 

Dr Liz Hardy is the owner of ElearningTrainer.com and the author of E-learning 101, the friendliest online study guide around. Dr Hardy takes a unique approach to online learning. Blending simple e-learning strategies with a little humour and pictures of friendly dogs, she presents accessible e-learning advice that works.