more sophisticated type of discussion forum can be created using software similar to that which was used to create The Education Forum.
A free easy to use version of the Invision Power Board can be configured by the teacher either to be open only to pre-registered students (as is the case in the example given), or restricted to bona fide students from other educational institutions.
There is much greater functionality with this product. Personalised tutoring can take place using the Personal Messenger and e-mail a board member features. It is also much more fun for the students to use.
As with all live internet discussion boards there are issues of security which need to be attended to. It is recommended that the teacher in charge of the board restricts the students ability to personalise their profile on the board (personal photos, age and gender information etc.). It is also wise to set the board up so that "Guests" can only read the board rather than use its range of features. I also favour pre-registering the students I want to use the board then only opening it up to other internet users on request. This way I have confidence in the security of the forum for its young users. All these configuration details are easily learnt by using the "Admin Control Panel" once your board has been registered.
A further disadvantage is the advertisements that come with the free online version. (A free "ads free" of the software can be downloaded if you already host a web site which supports php)
In the example below students have been encouraged to discuss the causes of the English Civil War - many more discussions will follow in the months ahead. This is a new initiative please check back soon to observe developments.