An Exercise in Using the Discussion Forum


Communicating with your tutor and other students is an important part of this course, and an important method of accessing help.

In this session you will undertake an activity to introduce yourself to the other students in your tutor group.

The discussion forum

This course includes a discussions feature that allows you to participate in discussions about the course with other members of your class. Messages are posted to the discussion board under a particular topic for anyone enrolled on the course to read. The individual topics are called threads, and are sometimes referred to as threaded discussions. The discussions are asynchronous, which means that you can read and reply to messages whenever you have time.

To access the discussions area, either:

To learn about the features of the Discussions section click on the question mark icon, which is located in the top right corner of the page, and read the Discussions section of the Student User Guide.

Exercise - Introducing yourself to your tutor group

In this exercise you will introduce yourself to the other students in your tutor group using the Discussions section.

To return to the course, close the window containing the Discussions section.


The Chat feature allows you to communicate with other members of your group in real-time. Whilst viewing messages in threaded discussions can be very useful, especially for work-related communications, one of the major drawbacks is the lack of true interactivity between students and tutors. The Chat feature attempts to introduce an element of face-to-face communication.

To access the Chat area:

The Chat software employs Java technology. The first time you enter the Chat section, a box similar to the one below will appear in your Web browser. Click the Yes button to activate the software.

Chat security dialogue box

The Chat software should then load and will appear in a new window. If you experience any problems installing or using the software please contact the Alliance Helpdeskfor advice.

Alliance Helpdesk

Your tutor will arrange Chat sessions for your tutor group and will inform you of the time the sessions will take place.

To return to the course, close the window containing the Chat section.


'Netiquette', or network etiquette, is the generic term for the rules of polite behaviour when communicating using the Internet. The Internet needs rules even more than most human societies because the audio - visual clues that indicate when people are being serious, laughing or just having a wry smile at the world are lacking.

When using email or chatting on a conference, people come across very differently than they do when you meet them face-to-face. Netiquette describes the rules of social interaction that stop people from looking like a gatecrasher at somebody else's party.

There are a number of documents you should take a look at, the core one being the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) commissioned RFC 1855. This document gives an overview of the rules of polite behaviour and has some good pointers to additional literature on the subject.

RFC 1855 also have a very good introduction to the subject on their Netiquette Home Page.

Netiquette Home Page

You may also like to look at The Net: User Guidelines and Netiquette by Arlene Rinaldi. This is a kind of 'Miss Manners' for the cyber age.

The Net: User Guidelines and Netiquette