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The advancement in technologies and the fast pace globalization has led to university students eitherpartially or fully in an online environment (LaPointe&Reisetter, 2008). Onlinelearning presents not only challenges in course design but also opportunities toenhance student learning. The value of online learning communities is supportedby powerful learning theories; an active learning community and a sense ofconnectedness to others are critical to real learning (LaPointe&Reisetter, 2008).
The recent growth in computer networks and more specifically, the World Wide Web (WWW) has given rise to communication, socialization and interaction between individuals via the internet. The internet is been used for several purposes these days ranging from education, business and so on, one major area that focuses on individual interaction and communication is online forum.
An online forum, or message board, is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages. They differ from chat rooms in that messages are at least temporarily archived. Also, depending on the access level of a user and/or the forum set-up, a posted message might need to be approved by a moderator before it becomes visible.
Since information and privacy is very vital as it involves some secrets, strategies or ideas, there has been need to protect information from being violated or exposed. This introduces us to the need for a secured online forum, Luke et al. (2003) defines Security as the degree of protection against danger, damage, loss, and criminal activity. Security as a form of protection structures and processes that provide or improve security as a condition, here security mechanisms, policies and privileges can be enforced. With this, private posts can be enhanced and regulations can be applied. In other words will we design a secure student online forum.
This present era has been termed to be an information age, an age where the demand for information has dramatically increase, the internet has been the most useful place for getting information nowadays, the use of search engines is one of the most useful, the internet is not just used for getting information but for also socializing and exchanging ideas and information, this has led to the development of several softwares and applications, ranging from the development of online communities and interactive applications. Some of these communities and interactive applications are included with live chat, instant messaging, forum and online calls. Information are surfed at every possible place, people are interested in sharing and obtaining feedback on their research or who are interested in studying online communities of practice. In a case of a learning community, there are ways in which the community can leverage learning; one of such way is online forum which is our area of focus.
Sylvia c. (2007) explains, an online forum is a type of interactive website for holding discussions and posting user generated content, usually each conversation has its own screen, with the original posting at the top, and responses listed in chronological order below. A sense of virtual community often develops around forums that have regular users, it is an instance of interactive web. Forums differ from chat rooms and instant messaging because forum participants do not have to be online at the same time, they suit short posts, which request a response from others. This online forum can enhance campus-based activities; opportunities to support existing campus-based activities will be explored. For example faculty learning communities and workshop that are supported through the learning could be supported and promoted through the forum, exchange of expertise and services with other forums.
Luke et al. (2003) explains, one good way to get users to return to your site is to offer Web forum, these can be used for purposes as varied as philosophical discussion groups and product technical support. Web forums are sometimes also called discussion board or threaded discussion groups, the idea of a forum is that people can post articles or question to them and others can read and reply to their questions. Each topic in a forum is usually called thread.
Over the years number of reported security breaches has increased, intrusions and attack have become more and more sophisticated and are very common nowadays, since information and privacy is very vital as it involves some secrets, strategies or ideas, there has been need to protect information from being violated or exposed. This introduces us to the need for a secured online forum, where security mechanisms, policies and privileges can be enforced. With this, private posts can be enhanced and regulations can be applied. However in online forum information and ideas can be shared, individuals who share in an interest in education research and practice can dialogue across disciplines, geographical borders, levels of expertise, and educational sectors. In other words new threads of discussion by posting articles can be started, viewing articles that have been posted, viewing the threads of conversation in the forum.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
In recent time the quest for this knowledge has risen drastically, surfing or browsing the web without direction for information is becoming stressful especially using search engines. Also getting information in a campus-based community, especially when carrying out research, it can be stressful and expensive.
Due to busy schedules of lecturers, they find it difficult passing information to students, students in turn also find it difficult to interact with them, especially to ask question and get ideas.
Setting up a forum is actually quite an interesting problem. We will need some way of storing the articles in a database with author, title, date, and content information. However, the way most threaded discussion software works is that, along with showing you the available articles, it will show you the relationship between articles. That is, you are able to see which articles are replies to other articles (and which article they are following up) and which articles are new topics of discussion.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The project is aimed at designing a social community website for lecturers and students interaction in the Department of Computer Science and computer engineering. The functionalities are related to normal existing social websites, this entails; quick messaging (student-to-student, student-to-lecturer and lecturer-to-lecturer)
To protect information from unauthorized users by implementing role based security.
To implement a secured web forum for students and lecturers of the Department Of Computer Science, University of Port Harcourt
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This research work will help in enhancing our knowledge about implementing an online forum; it will improve the interaction between lecturers and students.
This forum is developed in order to facilitate it users to establish network between one to many persons and maintain all people’s profile. It will also help to save time and energy when they want to share some kind of information, views, ideas etc to their group friends without spending so much time for communicating to each other. It provides social communism so that people can interact with each other even both of them so far away from each other.
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This project is centered on building a student online forum using PHP and SQL technology; it is going to elaborate on how security checks can be enforced to an online forum. We will give the general view of online forum, security and related research especially in area like online community and interactive web. Also basic security techniques used in interactive webs and forum.
1.6 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
An interesting area like this is quite tasking, getting the required technical skill to develop this research is a great limitation. Surfing and searching for material and information online is expensive which makes it a major constrain and limitation in this work. Another constrain is time, due to short time frame some areas relating to this research were not covered.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Online community: it is a virtual community that exists online whose members enables its existence through taking part in membership ritual. Many means are used in social software separately or in combination, including text-based chat rooms and forums that use voice, video text or avatars
Online forum: it is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages
Security: It is the degree of protection against danger, damage, loss, and criminal activity. Security as a form of protection is structures and processes that provide or improve security as a condition.
Information:It is any kind of event that affects the state of a dynamic system
Message board: It is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages
Database:It is a system intended to organize, store, and retrieve large amounts of data easily
Query: A specific set of instructions for extracting a particular data or information
Repository:It is a location where large number of information or data are kept or stored.
Thread:(sometimes called a topic) is a collection of posts, usually displayed from oldest to latest.
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