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The new discussion fora on myUnisa

Posted by robanaurochs 
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Anonymous User
Re: The new discussion fora on myUnisa
May 11, 2006 05:15PM
Now when I'll get to the questionnaire is another issue altogether.

Methinks perhaps it will be easier to just have it right here.

Tell me what you want, and I'll look into it.

Have been campaigning for reading rights on the student db for years now, which will allow us to add more windows to Osprey (proper authentication, library loans, your account status, assignment marks, etc etc) without luck, so keep that in mind when you post. What can Osprey offer you to make life easier? I have ideas, but welcome yours.
avatar Re: The new discussion fora on myUnisa
May 11, 2006 07:20PM

Is there some way that you can create a tag that will allow code fragments to be displayed without smileys and in a fixed-pitch font?

I'll post more as I think of them
Re: The new discussion fora on myUnisa
May 11, 2006 07:35PM
I'm CONSTANTLY looking at that! Point is, the phorum software has add-in modules that addresses these issues. Much quicker than re-engineering...

If I remember correctly, in the short term, the smiley problem can be resolved by adding a space e.g. before a semi-colon

( space ;

will give you

( ; //what language uses this???? winking smiley
Anonymous User
Re: The new discussion fora on myUnisa
May 12, 2006 11:28AM
wrong langauge uses ( ;
Re: The new discussion fora on myUnisa
May 16, 2006 10:41AM
Yeah, as this is a computer science forum I also think we'd all appreciate not having to edit code(insert spaces) just to have it show without smileys more than we appreciate smileys...(if we do at all).

The fixed width font is a good idea too, if you've ever tried to draw some asci type art to explain something (or tried to get a matrix to line up nicely)... the problem there is also that the edit box and the final message use different spacing, so you have to continually preview and re-edit to make things pretty.

How about allowing some html like tags - obviously thinking here of <code> and <pre> something like the square bracketed ones it uses for urls etc.
Re: The new discussion fora on myUnisa
May 16, 2006 03:46PM
Perhaps get rid of smileys?
Larger edit box?

Html tags a bad idea - other than including an html editor. Tried allow tags today and it created a mess with laready posted items.
Re: The new discussion fora on myUnisa
May 17, 2006 04:19PM
I think the rationale behind myUnisa's discussion forums, as explained, are a beautiful theory - that is most likely never going to be implemented. Over all of my subjects, I don't think a single myUnisa forum is actually active.

Now for COS and INF subjects, that's fine, cos of Osprey smiling smiley But for my other subjects, it's more than a little frustrating.

Surely, the lecturers would save a lot of time currently used responding to email queries by actually posting the subject of those queries in the forums. Personally, before I try to contact a lecturer with a query, I check the Osprey Forums, but I can't do that with my MAT subjects.

Bring on the questionnaire smiling smiley
Re: The new discussion fora on myUnisa
May 17, 2006 04:38PM
The good news is that the myUnisa forums are on track fora revamp - completely rewritten inhouse. I personally think that using existing time-tested software is the route to go - why reinvent the wheel when energy can be utilized somewhere else (a true OO approach, and so much quicker with open source)? But then again, let's see what comes up.

Post your ideas in this thread - we don't want to give you "leading" questions in a questionnaire.

Btw, we developed a web-based email client that, when a lecturer replied to a message gave him/her the option to have the question and his/her reply automatically posted to a forum. Never caught on, since web-based email clients are not popular... pity. A new module that allows one to read/post messages to a forum via email is now available - am looking into that.

Point is, what can we add to make it easier for the lecturer and the student? Ultimately one does not want to make it too technical or too complex?
Re: The new discussion fora on myUnisa
May 17, 2006 04:51PM
So much for post/read messages via email to a forum - it does not check permissions on a forum before inserting messages. Spam here we come! Pity. Hack? Think that is impossible to incorporate....
Re: The new discussion fora on myUnisa
May 19, 2006 07:49PM
I couldn't find the quote now, but I remember that somewhere in the mail Rob exchanged with the bugmaster, the bugmaster said somethign along the lines that the School of Computing learners are the WORST users of the myUnisa...well duh...maybe that's because we know what a proper system should look like.
Is it just me or doesn't UNISA practice what they preach?
avatar Re: The new discussion fora on myUnisa
May 19, 2006 10:04PM
I think it's because we're less forgiving when something goes wrong. After all, what good's a system that's got bugs, or worse doesn't do what the users require.

I think that the powers-that-be forgot something major when they instilled their "vision" to make lecturers more accessible that they were dealing with students who were used to a different system.

From a personal point of view, I've never seen the fora as a means to communicate with the lecturers but rather with fellow students. People have complained on the odd occasion that lecturers never respond to queries posted on the fora. I've never had this problem because whenever I've had a problem, I just send an e-mail to the course address (AS INSTRUCTED) and I've gotten a reply usually within 24 hours.

If the myUNISA visionaries wanted greater staff-student interaction, they could at least have had the decency of informing everyone instead of just expecting things to magically happen as planned. I remember when SOL was switched off and the SAKAI system was turned on. My first impression was that there really wasn't any difference between the two other than the look and a few extra features (of which I've never used e.g. the calendar). Nowhere on the site are there instructions on what must be done in order to use the discussion fora.

Has anybody looked at the myUNISA discussion fora recently. There are a lot of topic categories being used as messages since the students don't know how they can create messages. We're almost half-way through the year and I have yet to see a single message posted for any of my subjects. Granted, I'm taking IT subjects but for those of you who have non-IT subjects, are things any different?

I remember last year Osprey had a lot more messages posted than this year. Is this because the student numbers are less now I've progressed or is it because a lot of my fellow students don't know about Osprey? This really saddens me because I feel that, for distance education students, these discussion fora are a lifeline, especially for those who live in more remote areas (i.e. in gorges winking smiley)

There is a case where a fellow student (I can't remember the exact post) in another African country who only recently got registered but hasn't been able to get the textbooks until somebody offered some on Osprey. I hope the transaction worked out ok but this would not have been possible without Osprey. So much for the improvement of myUNISA. What topic category should the lecturers have created? "Desperately seeking textbooks".

What I don't understand is that the bugmaster said the reason that they decided to make the system lecturer driven is because students requested it saying they wanted more lecturer interaction (see previous posts). The bugmaster also said that the system that TSA was using (COOL) was more geared towards this kind of interaction. This makes me wonder whether the former TSA webmasters were lobbying for this kind of system for the merged university. This is both arrogant and short-sighted. If that's what they wanted they should have put that in the survey that was on SOL last year before deciding what's best for us. A university is supposed to promote discussions amongst people, not curtail them.

On the positive side, fellow students have used their ingenuity in order to replace the functionality that has been lost. Apart from using category titles to post messages, I've had some fellow students taking the e-mail addresses from myUNISA and the blanket e-mailing every student (I find this rather rude). Also, on one of my fora, somebody posted a topic-message that they've created a discussion forum on yahoo groups. Do these kinds of actions not make the penny drop for the webmasters or are they not watching the fora themselves?

I think I should stop ranting now before I sound like a bitter old fart. On the whole I don't think that myUNISA is a total write-off. It's more-or-less the same as SOL was, although the menu system is annoying. My major problem is basically with the policy makers; that they have turned off a highly valuable interactive tool.
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