Online discussion forums are a key component of modern MOOCs, and often the main way students can interact with each other and the staff. With a critical mass of thousands of students across different time zones, MOOC discussion boards commonly see students answering each others questions, often before staff have a chance to respond (Coursera has reported average responses as low as 22 minutes).
Udacity, unlike most MOOC providers who have built their own discussion boards, opts to use open source alternatives. Until recently, their forums which were powered by Open Source Q&A, a Stackoverflow-like system. Unfortunately the forums were targeted by spammers.
Udacity’s response was quick:
[update]: Spammers have attacked our forums. We are working on upgrades so future attacks won’t affect your learning. Thx for your patience!
— Udacity (@udacity) April 22, 2015
Udacity’s student forums have moved to a new system and is up and running! Old forum data can be found at http://t.co/Rpt1jARbVp
— Udacity (@udacity) May 1, 2015
There are always glitches when making major changes, but Udacity is on top of the situation:
Our forums are now back up in read-only mode. Lots of work still going on to get them fully functional. Sorry about the delay students!
— Udacity (@udacity) May 12, 2015
Despite the glitches, the commitment to open-source is admirable as it should allow for easier incorporation of best-in-class features to make massive discussions easier to navigate, read, and participate in.