The forum tools are very useful as they eliminate the need for email contact lists and ensure that the tutors and students do not end up sending the same information several times to different users. Because the forum stays in the course area, it also means that there is a searchable archive of discussions.
Some people dislike forums because they can end up getting a lot of emails so it is with this in mind that there are two different types of forum in learn.gold.
News Forum: By default all learn.gold course areas contain a news forum. The news forum is a broadcast mechanism for everybody on the course and usually only someone with an admin role can post to it. If everybody on the course needs to know this information, then it should be posted in the news forum.
Discussion Forum: A discussion forum is more flexible and course members can often choose to subscribe or unsubscribe to getting email alerts. All course members still have access to the forum even if they do not subscribe. The success or failure of these kinds of forums is down to the way they are planned and managed. it is always best to set some kind of a rule, students post by Wednesday, tutor answers on Friday (anybody can chip in before or after...). Not setting a rule can give the impression that nobody cares about the forum, if it looks like the tutor doesn't care, then why should the students?