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The Value of Collaborative E-Learning: Compulsory versus Optional Online Forum Assignments

, , The Open University of Israel, Israel

IJELLO Volume 6, Number 1, ISSN 1552-2237 Publisher: Informing Science Institute


Online forum assignments are one of the main tools for collaborative learning. This study examines the impact of compulsory submission on the effectiveness of forum assignments. It compares the grades of 120 MBA students who studied an advanced elective course in a blended distance learning university during the years 2005-2009. Some students were required to participate in a forum assignment and their submissions were graded, whereas other students were similarly asked to participate in a forum assignment but their work was not graded. The findings suggest that the benefits of optional forum assignments are marginal, whereas compulsory forum assignments may improve student performance. The main theoretical contribution of this study is the indication that although the students had a task-oriented attitude and were not engaged in social interaction with regard to the forum assignment, compulsory posting of the assignment on the discussion board, improved their performance. Practically, the findings suggest that publishing student assignments on a course website may improve assignments’ quality and therefore enhance student performance, even if there is no further collaboration or social interaction. This finding is important since creating meaningful collaboration in online environments requires considerable instructors’ efforts in moderating the discussion.


Gafni, R. & Geri, N. (2010). The Value of Collaborative E-Learning: Compulsory versus Optional Online Forum Assignments. Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning and Learning Objects, 6(1), 335-343. Informing Science Institute. Retrieved April 3, 2020 from .



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