Adding a Teaching category and/or a tag?

Dear Community,

The second edition of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) “Image Processing and Analysis for Life Scientists” will start on September 15th 2019 as a self-paced course.

Our course is fully open, our macros/scripts are on github and some materials are CC-BY.
One essential part of the course is a user forum. As it is planned to continue the course in the future, we were wondering if the course forum could be added to the forums.
In particular in the self-paced mode we are expecting similar or even recurring questions and therefore believe a permanent forum could be extremely helpful. Plus, a number of tools we are using during this course are already partners (@FIJI , @CellProfiler, @QuPath ) of this forum and so the integration of the MOOC forum might be beneficial for them as well.

We were suggesting a new category such as “Teaching” ? and/or a tag “MOOC-IPA4LS”?

We’re looking forward to receiving your feedback.

Best Regards,

@NicoKiaru @oburri @romainGuiet @seitz


@team, any thoughts on this?

I’ll open the discussion.

We already have the list of courses that @etarena did a while back

It would be interesting if students could get used to this forum by exchanging during the course.

However this would probably require to break the “as flat as possible” rule of this forum by having some sort of sub-forum. I see little advantage in the already crowded posts here to include specific course-related questions. This of course would put an extra strain on the maintainers of the forum, thus further opinions are always welcome.

Would other people use this forum as a means to interact with their students, if it were a possibility?

Imho the forum is not the best tool for this.

During the course, you want to have something in the shape of a live chat, like Mattermost, RocketChat or Slack. These are the best tools to allow student exchange during the course.

Also because realistically the same tool is used to know where do we meet for a beer after the course…


Hi @tinevez,

Thank you for your feedback.

Maybe you missed that point, but it’s about a Massive On-line course, it means :

  • we have many students ( last year around 200 students validated the course) and in our experience tools like Slack are not really compatible ( signing up , searchability …)
  • the students are scattered all around the world (the after-course beers are a bit difficult to set up :wink:)

Furthermore, forums are very common tools for MOOCs, the question is more about whether to have be the official forum of the course (and any other future courses)

I hope this clarify a bit,



Ok. I still think a dedicated channel on e.g. slack would be still more suited, even for a MOOC.


Here is my opinion.

I agree with @tinevez from what I have observed in smaller workshops - slack-like threads are useful for multichannel interactions that also include “where do we go for beer” etc. One drawback of this closed-forum style is that the communication does not sustain after each workshop, and I always feel that there could be a clever way to redirect the communication to There is a discontinuity.

For a large scale group like @oburri and @romainGuiet explained, I think the curator of the locally organized communication thread can pick up specific topics that have some value in sharing it with community and insist the person to post the question. The post can then be tagged with the name of the event / online platform.

I added the tag that @romainGuiet suggested.

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I am really appreciating this discussion, as the answer isn’t obvious to me.

I agree if the entire traffic from multiple MOOCs appear on here (do you have an estimate of volume for a single course?) then it would reduce the value/quality of the forum (and drive each person to only follow particular tags like “cellprofiler” and “fiji” rather than skimming all posts).

It makes a difference whether it’s possible to ignore a certain tag or category using whatever means each person interacts with the forum. I just go to the main page and skim all posts so I don’t know if it’s possible to change my settings to ignore posts with a given tag?

There was mention above of a “subforum”: is that an actual thing? or just referring to using a tag/category?

It is a thing, but not for Discourse :frowning: In Discourse this is the ‘categories’

I definitely agree, and think that already now, skimming has become more difficult for me due to the large amount of subjects and posts (not that the subjects are uninteresting, mind you)

Thanks for the feedback, however the goal for us asking about using the forum was to use it as a main source of discussion for the students, and having the MOOC as a ‘community partner’ and thus following the rule of

Unfortunately, we do not have the energy nor time to work on two fronts (A forum internal to the course and an other external forum).

What if we made a new category for the MOOC, with a corresponding team containing all participants (students and instructors)… and then made the category private to that team?

Then everyone could discuss as noisily as they want. Once the MOOC is over, after a week or two has passed, the category could be made public, adding the topics to the public archive for discoverability. That way, the topics would not flood the top of the feed. Any especially noisy topics like “where should we get a beer tonight?” could be deleted prior to unveiling the category.

This approach assumes that:

  1. The MOOC topics would be useful for the public later. If not, then I think the Forum would not be an appropriate venue for the MOOC.

  2. The general public would not be participating in any of the discussions during the course. Any needed public discussion could be done on the forum in other categories as usual.

  3. The MOOC instructors have time to clean up the MOOC topics prior to making the category public.

Regarding multiple MOOCs happening over time: they could all be subcategories of a top-level Teaching or Courses category, to keep things tidy.

I’m not necessarily advocating that we should do this—just proposing a way we might achieve @oburri’s goal without many of the downsides raised above.


Ooooh, I didn’t realize categories could be private. The approach you describe indeed mitigates the downsides for me (although has only relatively few upsides vs a separate forum). I’m still on the fence about it.

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My quick 2 cents from the road: I assume there is going to be ever more interest in joining It seems we will want to develop a variety of mechanisms to be inclusive while not overwhelming existing users. A private category as a temporary “workspace” sounds like something worth trying. Whether for the MOOC or not I don’t know. My primary concern would be the usability of the subcategories, but I’d be be happy to help give those a try when I’m back. J.

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