Please tell us more about your ideas for a forum. Do you have a specific implementation in mind? Will it be within Mediawiki or an external application?
Or is your idea to provide a link to an external forum from the dashboard?
How will the display of recent posts be different from the existing WEnotes display?
In the OERu model, we try to keep a layer of separation between the content and interaction tools. In theory it should be possible to reuse OERu course content with any forum tool rather than a dedicated centrally hosted forum. For example, an OERu partner may want to reuse one of our courses using their own preferred forum tool. This complicates the design of technology solutions (but in theory we should be able to harvest posts from any forum appropriately tagged, including any local forum posts.)
A single dedicated forum tool on the wikieducator site might help future students to reference as the data will be present on single server. Different OERu partners might use their own tools but once the course timeline is over they might clear/delete the data present on that tool.
Moreover a student might take multiple courses on the wikieducator site.For every course he might have to use different forum tool, which is troublesome usability wise.
I might be wrong on the above points, might require more discussion.
Your point about the preservation of discussion data after a course is closed is well made, and philosophically well aligned with our preference for learners to be in control of their own data. I agree that users who are not experienced in using a variety of technologies will have usability issues until they become more familiar with a range of tools.
The issue is that our design must take flexibility into account creating opportunities for a variety of different tools to be used which can be aggregated into the timeline. So if we augment by offering local discussion forums in the wiki - we must also provide a way for the threads and posts to be integrated into the WENotes timeline.
WikiEducator was an early adopter of LiquidThreads -- the threaded discussion extension used on our talk pages. Our version is outdated due to a nunmber of legacy dependencies and we are keen improve the discussion engine. Looking to the future, we will most likely implement Flow as the preferred wiki discussion tool. However, Flow is still under development and not quite ready for showtime and live course delivery. Take a look - Flow is impressive.
Flow is a very good and powerful widget. I went through their discussions and FAQ's and found that the server script to move LQT to Flow still needs to be developed.(or is it already developed?) This will pose a major issue of porting the old data if the script does not come up any time soon. Based upon the discussions that are present, there are many organization using LQT and are less keen on shifting to new widget. And even if they are to move to Flow, the script is a necessity.
You as well might have thought about this issue.Another naive solution will be to adopt Flow on testing basis for wikieducator. Users will use this and based upon their feedback, changes in Flow widget can be made accordingly(this is another project in itself). It will as well help the developers.
My idea of forum is somewhat similar to the extension given in the link below http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:WikiForum
Can I get a screenshot of WEnotes usage ? Also if possible the source so that I can try it out on my local machine ?
An external forum can also be used but an user might have to register/login again to that particular site/application which is not user friendly. A SSO type login can be provided but the database schema is varied across platforms and maintenance will be a heavy task to carry out. (eg: porting of old users; changes in the login criteria in future)