Is a forum really the best platform for a learning community?

All people who wish to help others:

Is a forum the best platform for this Arduino learning community or is there anything better instead of a forum?

In a forum, you post, others respond. You post again and others respond to you and other responders etc. It's really easy to lose focus what you have been told to do as an OP and I see this a lot in recent time. OP posts questions and others respond with questions of clarifications and suggestions. Then OP would ignore multiple requests/responses and move on to say other things, or just take a long time to provide any response.

I think this problem is the problem of a whole generation of younger people. I've been teaching them for 2 decades and things get worse in recent years. You ask them and they may respond to one out of several apparently important things you asked, such as in email. The exposure to social media may have caused their attention deficit disorder. It is especially hard because volunteer or professor (paid), we all do what we can to give advice and wish to see those younger people respond to our advice yet many if not most of the things we say get zero response. I have started to email my students only one question at a time in the hope they will read and respond. We need corrective actions because a generation that can't pay attention will not take responsibility because many don't even know what they are responsible of.

So maybe a forum isn't the right platform. If the OP is required to respond to EACH reply, then maybe they WILL read more carefully. That seems to be the case if you talk face-to-face. You can't just turn away from someone talking to you and ignore a large part of what they say and still expect them to continue to converse with you.

So is there any existing methods to provide such a challenge/response system on top of a forum? I know that a typical forum or an email system don't have such thing. I wonder, what it would look like if one of these threads were done face-to-face, with say 1 OP and 3 people trying to help, all in the same room. I bet each person will have to take turn to talk and whoever should respond should do so because everyone else is expecting a response.

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Verbal communication is best along with homework which actually tests the students progress.

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A forum is one way to learn, there are of course other ways for people to learn, there are online tutorials, both text and video, there are books. There are maker spaces and in some lucky cases there are friends who know this stuff.

As to people not responding to questions and not providing enough information, you seem to have overlooked one very important detail, which is if the 'student' does not provide the information then they don't get the help they want, their loss, not mine, not yours.

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It's a terrible place to learn. It's an absolutely incredible adjunct resource for learning, especially when encountering roadblocks.

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OK maybe I should specify an interactive learning experience, so tutorials and videos that are mostly not interactive are not included in my question.

It's a work habit that I am taking an educator's point of view. The problem if not fixed we won't get many people who can hold a functional conversation online or not. It's not just your or my loss, it's OUR loss.

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Yes, but that's not possible online. I'm looking for the next best thing and have just started wondering if forums are the next best thing.

Further to my previous response, also consider that there is no best way to learn, people have different learning styles, what suits one person is terrible for another. Just read some of the questions and answers on here, some people go away very satisfied with the help they get, others do not.

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I would say that the people who simply respond to one question out of a series of questions don't actually want to learn. They want their homework done for them, with the minimum of effort on their part.

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Let's face it, a lot of people end up on a forum because they haven't learned to read. :slight_smile:

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Then I hope, as an educator, you can help the rest of us (mostly) who are not educators. We are people from all sorts of different backgrounds with the common thing being that we willing to help. I've yet to meet a rocket scientist on here, but I have come close having had discussions with a satellite designer (to my knowledge there are or were 2 on here at one point).

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I've been planning an Arduino course. In my opinion, there is no replacement for a face to face workshop or classroom situation. We've all been trying to do things like that online since Covid, but it's a poor substitute. Lots of study materials work well online, though.

I've found that it's 100 times faster to get to the root of a student's problem, in person. The faster they get help, the more likely they will absorb the lesson.

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There does seem to be a notable reluctance to read datasheets or reference guides amongst some forum posters.

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I would hope that the forum will teach how to find answers as much as provide them.

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Yes, there are many who are happy with the help they get, myself included. Many take the extra efforts to make it easy to for us to help them. These people are getting the help they need and will likely become future us. Good for them. What about those who are not getting what they need? It's probably partly their own faults not knowing what they are expected to do or not making enough efforts to do so. We still want them to come along and get better. If a platform can help save some of those and turn them into more solid members, there will be more future us, when future us become "the past".

Even with this very thread, I'm finding myself maybe ignoring some responses because there is only one of me and several of you so I started "hearting" all the responses I've read so far as a means to track whether I read it or not. Not a great way but better than not tracking at all. Maybe even a checkbox only for OP to check whether they read that particular response would be a good improvement and low-hanging fruit?

While typing this response and tidying it up, I think there were 5-6 more responses that came in. Didn't expect such level of response myself. Thanks for sharing!

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True true! But can we or a better designed platform nudge them towards doing the right thing and wanting to learn, just a bit more?

I think for non-educators, like me, the forum can be incredibly frustrating, where every week is like freshers week, with the same questions and the same boo-boos - it just gets repetitive.

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Without wishing to be rude to you as you obviously want to be helpful and supportive but I find that comment a bit arrogant. There is no 'right thing', I mean no universally accepted notion of the 'right thing'. What you might consider to be the right thing might be completely wrong for your interlocutor, it is for them to decide what is right for them. Folk come here, they ask for help, sometimes it's right for them, sometimes not, that's their decision for their circumstances, not ours.

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As a professional educator, you do this all day long. It's tiring and repetitive and after a number of years you feel like you've accomplished nothing because those youngsters just keep coming and with worse skills than those who came before them. But, you pause to think all the great things those once youngsters you talked to are doing now and you were part of the system that helped them get there. It's not rocket science. It's not even science in my opinion. What I teach is science, how I teach isn't :slight_smile:

For those who don't consider yourself educators, if you enjoy showing someone how to do something, a friend, family, or colleague, or online strangers, you ARE educators. You just don't do it all day long. It's like being grandparents or so I was told, enjoying having the parent-child moments and not having to do the daily grind of rearing a child. :wink:

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Good luck! If you can get anyone as assistant, take them! I've done some workshops and labs with arduino myself. It's the best way to teach and learn but it takes a lot of effort out of the presenter. Don't plan to accomplish a lot. If you can get them through a few basic examples and show them some cool things, it would be already great!

The skill that is most lacking is self help. There's a joke about a person who goes to a book store and asks, "where is the self help department"... "

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