Forum discussions the way there were used in this course were the best way I have ever learned in a course. The process applied through these discussions forced us to investigate about a topic, build new understandings, meanings and knowledge, and then communicate these learnings to others who may start discussing them.
It definitely takes self-directed learners to follow these different steps but I do believe that there isn’t better learning process than this one. The fact that we had also to report our thoughts in our blog and finally summarize what we had learned as an assignment was a great way to reinforce the learning.
Forum discussions in general are good ways to help create a learning community. However, participation in forum discussions is not always good because it is an usual process for many people and because it is time consuming. The fact that it was a big part of the grade for this course made a huge difference in this course and that is what made it successful. I had several experiences in past courses where discussion forums were not graded or just for a small part of the entire course, and the success of participation was far from being as good as in this course. As a consequence, there were also far less effective for our learning process.