Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Notification settings in a forum and 'the Woolies effect'

I've been having a mini-debate with a colleague about notifications when setting up forums in Blackboard. I always harp on about email notifications as 'promoting connections' but yesterday it was suggested that notifications negate the 'woolworths effect'. Some of you will be old enough to not only recall 'Woolies' but also the strategy they had of changing their offering so often that it piqued your interest enough to get you over the threshold and, hopefully, back out having made a purchase.
In Blackboard it is possible to set notifications:
  1. To include the body of a post as well as a link back to the forum 
  2. To only include the link to the forum post 
Does anyone have a hunch as to which of these, if at all, would be the better option to encourage participation (or 'promote connections', with reference to the Networked Learning definition). I had one of these notifications earlier. Was getting the 'full story' from the email stopping me from accessing the forum to see what was actually happening? I am not sure there's a direct relationship there. I am sure that other factors could easilly overturn either approach in the moment that a decision is made about whether or not to visit the forum. Speaking personally, when I get notifications which only give the link to a post I get frustrated. It does not allow me to evaluate on the spot how much of an interruption to my workflow this post demands. Merely the hint that someone is active in the forum is a point of frustration. Perhaps it is better to simply tell students at the start that they are going to miss out unless they check the forum every day. Then, when they make it their routine, they discover that the visit was worth it and hang about for long enough to participate. However, if the full text of the post is given to the student, they can then begin to think about what was said without the delay of having to login only to discover that the message did not require a reply. This feels like a question that someone answered conclusively in about 1975.
(image: cc wikipedia)

No comments: