Should we have a separate Discourse for course discussions?

Yes! I was just going to post a separate topic about this but will instead paste here:

Creating a discourse space for Why Open? course
Hey folks, we’re planning to run a second iteration of Why Open? in August ( and we are thinking using a designated space on Discourse for course participants to post their thoughts and submit assignments, etc. How can we do that? Should we create a new category? Can we have our own designated space somehow? @vanessa

Interestingly, I’ve been grappling with this question from the opposite perspective. I was interested to see the new SoO category on this install of Discourse and was wondering if Webmaker Training was making a mistake being outside of the P2PU community. Lately though, it’s been helpful to have a bit of separation, especially as we gear up for Maker Party and are starting to use our discourse install for both Training specific and a kind of Maker Party support.

@jane I’d be interested to hear if you are thinking about having a separate School of Open discourse install or not?

I think we have three options.

  1. all discussion happens here on
  2. every course has it’s own discourse instance
  3. have one discourse instance for all course discussion and seperate

The first option feels messy, but maybe messy is good? The second option doesn’t sound compelling to me, I would rather embed disqus in the course in that case. The third option has potential, but discourse integration with other sites aren’t as good as I would wish it to be.

@jane would you want to combine general School of Open conversation and course conversations? Would you want different School of Open course conversation to be more visible across courses?

@laura interesting! Do you think that all Webmaker Training conversation would fit here or just some of it? I think there are lots of overlap in what we do and how we think about things.

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My vote goes to having two instances of Discourse:

This one - I like the way we are using this Discourse instance, and wouldn’t’ change it.

Course conversations - A separate Discourse to handle conversations within courses. Ideally each course has a separate category, and we improve the integration into course content so that users who don’t want to be distracted by conversations in all the other courses, won’t be. But if you navigated to the Discourse server itself, you could see everything.

I imagine the course discourse, to work something like the way OpenStudy integrates with OCW. The openstudy widget is embedded on OCW pages and shows posts relevant to the course you are looking at. But if you navigate to you can see all of the discussions happening.

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@1l2p that sounds like a good suggestion to me.

Where should other discourse forums that we’ve set up (PWYM and Webmaker Training) fit in?

@vanessa what are your thoughts about discourse for writing for change? Do you want to group it under a category on a general discourse for courses or have a dedicated forum? What would the difference be?

that’s the thing, I think some of it would fit and some of it would not. The way we’re gearing up to use our install to support folks during Maker Party would be way too much noise for the p2pu discourse, but some of the course conversations would be interesting to people taking other P2PU courses. I think @1L2P’s solution is interesting - it sounds like what we tried to do with Webmaker Training’s setup (in that you’re pointed directly to a specific category), so further integration on that front would be good for us too.

+1 to @1L2P’s suggestion.

I think we could put both Community Design and Writing for Change into general discourse.

In the future, I’d see the following pros and cons of putting them all on one discourse:

1.) Cross-pollination: from @ahnjune’s research we know that folks who take a P2PU course are more likely to RUN a P2PU course. Folks from different courses could @ each other.
2.) The digests are super-tasty.
3.) We’ll have a sense of the whole learning ecosystem at a high level.

1.) Are there limits on how many categories we can have?
2.) Besides color, are we loosing something when courses can’t brand themselves?
3.) We’ll need to pull some primer documentation on how to set your email settings for n00bs.
4.) Are we setting ourselves up for a need to break into schools in the future? I hope not.

@asbush is new to the crew–what do you think of writing for change as part of a suite of discourse conversations versus a stand-alone thing?

So lets try out discource for courses. Any suggestions for what to call it? ?

The URL is maybe not as important, because I don’t think this will be a natural “destination”. I imagine most users will just use some embedded version that lives within their course structure.

And to the point made by others about cross-pollination between courses. At least initially I see each course operating fairly independently. On the backend, they are supported by a separate category within one Discourse installation, but in the course UX that wouldn’t be obvious.

Getting the discussion embedded is maybe the most important part of this.

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+1 to Philipp’s solution, or any other that doesn’t involve silo’ing course discussions. Would like cross-pollination between takers of diff P2PU-influenced courses.

re URL - could it be an opportunity to flag our changing approach to courses - ie we’re not a course platform but are hosting this one aspect - so something like etc etc?

bit clunky I know…

@dirk - I would not want to combine general SOO conversation with course discussions as they serve dif purposes. As @1L2P said.

@laura - I think it’s fine to leave SOO integrated into larger p2pu discourse for now! Unless there comes a need to separate it for some reason down the line. The point of SOO using P2PU discourse was to more fully integrate ourselves into the P2PU community anyway…

Ok - so should I wait until @dirk creates a separate instance of discourse for courses, then we can create a Why Open category?

Thanks all!

@jane yes, I’ll work on getting a new instance up before the end of the week. There are lots of things we want to use it for!

I’m wondering about usage scenarios for School of IoT conversations and peer reviews.

Our initial plan is to use Discourse platform for everyone to contribute weekly and get feedback from other peers. We want people to tag their contents with tags ala week1, week2, so we could discriminate these contents. I’m wondering how does Discourse platform work with multi tag selection (Week1 & SchoolOfIoT Tags for example).

We want to offer our contents in English and Spanish, so we will double the ammount of tags (Week1 and Semana1 p.e). If we run several iterations of the course, we should add the year or quarter to the tags or add multiple tags so SchoolofIoTQ314, SchoolofIoTQ215, (or schoolofiot q3 2014).

Given our courses would run for 5 + 6 + 6 weeks, we will be adding at least 35-40 tags in total. How does that scale with several courses running on the same instance?

I do agree that cross-pollination is a very valuable feature but I’m wondering how well does Discourse work given the ammount of courses and tags.

@elsatch I’m wondering about this? Does a seperate discourse for some courses make more sense?

@1L2P - how do you think would fit under a shared forum?

@alexruthmann - do you think would fit in a shared forum?

@dirk I am ultimately seeing as a shared forum. We will be launching other content within Play With Your Music. I see us converting our current categories to sub-categories. We may use the landing page at as the navigation to the various sub-forums within our main Discourse install. That’s, at least, my thought right now.

We’re hoping to launch a separate sub-forum for Play With Your Music Theory and Play With Your Film Music. I’d also like to set one up for my Scratch+Music+MaKey MaKey work. It makes sense to me, since we’re designing for community, to have a central community with easily accessible sub-communities for related, but separate projects.

I have a separate (currently private) discourse install over at Before that launches, I will probably migrate that to

Good question. Some of the larger projects or communities may need their own discourse. For example, Learning Creative Learning was big enough, and had sufficient focus on one particular area and technical staff to install it, to warrant hosting a separate instance.

If the answer is YES to both of these questions, it might make sense to host a separate instance:

  • Does it make sense/ do you need it? (is your community big / active enough)
  • Can you handle hosting yourself, or is there funding for us to do it for you?

If answer to either of the above is NO, then a shared P2PU provided platform may be the best solution.

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hey @dirk what is the timeline for this getting up? we’ll be starting “why open?” in a little over a week and we need to set up the pages for the course soon!

Hey @jane, sorry, yes. You can start using Let me know once you’ve signed up and I’ll give you the needed permissions. Let me know if anything there doesn’t work

I moved 7 posts to a new topic: Does require a new account?

I just want to point people to the Why Open? discourse… it’s really taking off! See the exciting (responses to responses) for the first week’s reflection at

If Why Open? course is any indication, I think Discourse is definitely a tool to use for future facilitated courses!

cc: @clhendricksbc @vanessa