There are many ways to enhance the learning process among students or the masses in general. Among these informal education methods is the panel forum.
What is a panel forum?
A panel forum is basically a conversational approach to learning where a small group of experts in the topic of choice engage in an intellectual exchange of ideas. Certain issues or problems, preferably current events, are discussed to help clarify those issues or problems for the ultimate benefit of the listeners. The participants in a panel forum directly discuss and interact with each other in a conversational manner, giving out their expert opinion or ideas on the issue or problem. They do this in such a way that the audience is able to hear what the panel forum participants are discussing.
The panel forum is commonly practiced in television shows where the opinions or viewpoints of the participants are magnified through the use of television cameras and microphones. A panel forum moderator makes sure that all the differing viewpoints are expressed in such a manner that both sides of a subject, especially controversial ones, are given enough exposure. The moderator makes sure that nobody dominates the conversation.
Although the panel forum may appear to be informal and random, these are actually guided by well-planned program of activities. The moderator makes sure that the panel forum progresses according to topic and schedule. To ensure that no time is lost to unproductive comments that could lead to confusion, each participant is given the topics to be discussed ahead of time including points on what is expected of them. Participants should be well-prepared with their helpful data and statistics to verify or confirm their viewpoints. The moderator can meet the participants in a meeting to discuss the details of the discussion and if possible, conduct a dry-run or rehearse the process. This prevents unexpected confusion in the course of tackling the subject matter.
Hereunder are the important points to observe in conducting a panel forum:
Rules that the Participants Should Observe During the Panel Forum
- Prepare in advance for the panel forum by reading about the subject.
- Note down the proceedings of the panel forum.
- Avoid putting down other members of the panel forum. There should be a unified effort to efficiently discuss the subject matter in an objective manner.
- Always maintain eye contact or address the person you are interacting with so the audience can follow the discussion.
- Make sure that, although the mood of the panel forum is conversational, the audience hears what you are saying.
- While somebody speaks, the members of the panel forum should listen. The moderator breaks the expression of opinion or viewpoint whenever he deems fit.
- Each member should be succinct in providing their ideas. Beating-around-the-bush is not allowed. Get straight to the point.
Rules to be Observed by the Panel Forum Moderator
- The panel forum moderator must introduce properly the participants of the panel forum noting their expertise on the subject to be discussed.
- The panel forum moderator should provide an overview of the proceedings.
- The panel forum moderator must be sensitive to the needs of the proceedings and make sure that all participants are heard.
- The panel forum moderator should ensure that nobody dominates the conversation.
- The panel forum moderator should have a broad understanding of people and how they interact.
- The panel forum moderator should summarize and end the panel forum noting the important points.
Adhering to these rules will make the panel forum a very productive and effective tool that will enhance learning among students in educational institutions or the masses in general.
©Patrick Regoniel 28 August 2010