FutureLearn’s Social Lead, David Thair, shares his top six tips for getting the most out of our social learning features.
*UPDATE*, check out the latest advice from David in his new post 5 more tips and tools for social learning.
At FutureLearn we believe in the power of learning through conversation, and we have developed our learning platform to enable this. Instead of having separate forums or discussion boards, you can leave comments and have a conversation on almost every step of a course – just press this button:
But with thousands of learners making comments, making sense of them all might seem overwhelming to begin with. So here are my top six tips to help you get the most out of social learning on FutureLearn:
1. Fill out your profile and upload a profile picture
If you haven’t already, you should add some information to your FutureLearn profile – just like our example learner above. You could include the country or area you live in, your hobbies or interests, or why you’re taking courses on FutureLearn.
You should also add a profile picture. Other learners will see it next to your comments – I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a lot more fun to talk to an individual rather than an anonymous grey box.
By default, your FutureLearn profile can only be seen by other learners who are logged in. It isn’t public and it won’t be found by search engines, unless you un-tick the box on the Edit profile page.
2. You don’t have to read ALL the comments on a step
When you use FutureLearn for the first time it can be tempting to try to read all of the comments on every step of your course. You can do this if you like, but you don’t have to! Otherwise you could be stuck on one step for days. Instead, just read as many comments as you wish, and use the next three tips to make it easier.
3. Filter conversations by ‘most-liked’
When you’re browsing through comments and contributing to conversations, use the button to show your appreciation for a comment or reply. Be generous! It might be an idea or statement you agree with, a really good question that you’d like to see answered, or a useful reply to someone else’s question.
This will make the comment easier to find when comments are filtered by ‘most liked’. This brings both comments and entire conversations with a lot of likes to the top of the page. Try this on discussion steps especially, to see what other learners are reacting to.
4. Follow educators and learners you find interesting
If you spot another learner who leaves comments you enjoy, you should follow them to find their comments more easily (I’ll tell you how in a moment). It’s a good idea to do this for the educators on your course too – then you can quickly see what they’ve been saying to learners on the step you’re viewing. Just use the ‘following’ filter.
You can also filter by following in the activity feed for the course, to see what the people you are following have said most recently across the whole course.
5. Use the ‘my comments’ filter to review your own comments
You can see your 100 most recent comments on your profile page. You can also see what you said on a particular step by selecting the ‘my comments’ filter – handy if you’ve been using comments as a way to take notes.
6. Get stuck in
This is the most important tip! If you’ve never made a comment or replied to someone else’s, you should definitely give it a try. I have a hunch that after you’ve received your first reply, you’ll find plenty more things to say (here’s a reminder of how to find your replies).
And even if you don’t feel you have something to contribute all the time, giving other people’s comments a few ‘likes’ will help everyone to find the most useful comments.
If you’d like to put these tips into action, go back to your courses and starting commenting, liking and replying in the discussions there. We’ve now closed comments on this post, but many thanks to everyone who added their thoughts and advice below!