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Instructors and students can communicate and collaborate using Moodle Forums. Instructors can create discussion topics or, depending on the forum type, allow students to originate topics. Course members can then post replies, and subscribe if they want to receive an email copy of each post made to a particular forum.
You can also watch an Hoonuit (previously Atomic Learning) video tutorial on this topic (link at right).
There are multiple forum types in Moodle. Some forum types allow only the instructor to start a new topic, and others allow students to start new topics. Choose the type of forum that makes sense for the activity you are asking your students to do:
- Single simple discussion
Only one topic, started by the instructor, is allowed. This is best suited for short-term, focused conversations.
- Each person posts one discussion
Each student may start one new topic. Students are not limited in the number of replies they can post within those topics.
- Q and A forum
An instructor posts one topic, for example, posing a question to students. Students must post their response before they can view other students’ responses.
- Standard forum for general use
Allow multiple topics arranged in a threaded conversation. Students may start new topics in this format.
- Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format
Allow multiple topics listed with the most recent topic at the top of the page and replies behind a link. Students may start new topics in this format.
- Individual student journals
Moodle does not come with a preset option for student journals, but you can set one up using a forum to create either a private journal where only instructors can read student posts, or blog-like individual journals that everyone on the course can read. See Create Student Journals in Moodle.
This unique forum is automatically created in each course for instructors to post announcements. By default, comments are not allowed, only instructors and TAs can post to the forum, and all course participants receive an email copy of each post.
- On your course page, click Turn editing on (top right). Editing icons and links will appear.
- Locate the course Section where you will add the forum. (If you are using the Collapsed topics format, open the Section.)
- At the bottom-right of the Section, click + Add an activity or resource. The Activity chooser will open.
- In the Activity chooser, select Forum and then click Add. The Adding a new Forum page will open.
- Configure settings for the forum. For more information on these options, see Configure Forum Options (below).
- Click Save and return to course to return to your main course page.
When you add a Forum activity to a Moodle course, you can choose from a number of settings. The first setting is required; all the remaining settings are optional. Click particular headings to view those settings, or Expand all (top right) to view all settings. This section describes each setting.
- Forum name (required)
This name displays as a link to the forum on your course page. Use something unique that clearly identifies this forum from other course activities. We also recommend keeping the name short.
We strongly recommend you use this space to explain the purpose of the forum to your students. For example, you might describe how often students should post, how many posts and replies they should make, and/or the expectations about post content. The Description will be visible to students when they click the forum link.
- Display description on course page
Select this option to display the description underneath the assignment link on your course page. (This works best if the description is very concise).
- Forum type
Select a forum type from the drop-down menu. The default is Standard forum for general use. See descriptions of Forum Types above.
Attachments and word count
- Maximum attachment size
Each attachment cannot exceed this file size. (If a student can attach multiple files, and attaches files at different times, the total can exceed the set size.)
- Maximum number of attachments
Each student will be able to upload up to the maximum number of attachments for their submission.
- Display word count
This setting specifies whether the word count of each post should be displayed or not.
Subscription and tracking
- Subscription mode
Subscription mode allows students to choose to subscribe to the forum and receive an email copy of each post made. These are all the subscription choices:
- Optional subscription by default (recommended).
- Forced subscription - Everyone is subscribed and cannot unsubscribe (not recommended in most cases).
- Auto subscription - Everyone is subscribed initially but can choose to unsubscribe at any time.
- Subscription disabled - Subscriptions are not allowed.
- Read tracking
If enabled, participants can track read and unread posts in the forum and in discussions. By default, this is set to Optional, and forum tracking is controlled by individual users in their Personal Profile. If set to Off, read and unread posts are not tracked.
- RSS feed for this activity
RSS (really simple syndication) feeds in Moodle enable people to stay up to date with forum posts. Select Discussions or Posts from the drop-down menu to choose what content will be included in the feed. For more information about RSS feeds in Moodle, see Remote RSS Feeds Block in Moodle.
- Number of RSS recent articles
If RSS feed is enabled for this activity, this setting specifies the number of articles (either discussions or posts) to include in the RSS feed. Between 5 and 20 is generally acceptable.
Post threshold for blocking
- Time period for blocking
This setting limits the number of posts students can make in a period of time. Choose the time period within which to block students from posting from the Time period for blocking drop-down menu.
- Post threshold for blocking
If a time period for blocking has been set, this setting specifies the maximum number of posts which a user can post in the given time period.
- Post threshold for warning
Students can be warned as they approach the maximum number of posts allowed in a given period. This setting specifies after how many posts they are warned.
- Grade category
Select a Category in your gradebook under which you would like the assignment grade to be placed. See Create Grade Categories in Moodle for instructions on how to create a category in your gradebook.
You can grade your students' posts using Ratings. Instructors and TAs can rate each post a student makes, and the ratings are aggregated into a single grade in the gradebook.
- Roles with permission to rate
Once the forum activity has been saved, you will be able to see the roles Moodle users must have in order to submit ratings. The list of roles may be amended via the permissions link in the Administration block.
- Aggregate type
The aggregate type defines how ratings are combined to form the final grade in the gradebook. Choose from one of the following options in the Aggregate type drop-down menu:
Average of ratings - The mean of all ratings.
Count of ratings - The number of rated items becomes the final grade. Note that the total cannot exceed the maximum grade for the activity.
Maximum ratings - The highest rating becomes the final grade.
Minimum ratings - The smallest rating becomes the final grade.
Sum on ratings - All ratings are added together. Note that the total cannot exceed the maximum grade for the activity.
Note: If No ratings is selected, then the activity will not appear in the gradebook.
If an aggregate type has been selected, you may select the type of grading used for this activity. If Scale is chosen, you can then choose the scale from the Scale drop-down menu. If using Point grading, you can then enter the maximum grade available for this activity.
- Restrict ratings to items with dates in this range
If this check box is selected, you can set a specific date range during which a post must be made in order to receive a grade.
For more on grading see Grade Forum Contributions in Moodle.
Common Module Settings
Set whether or not an assignment is visible to students. By default, new assignments are set to Show. (This is comparable to using the Hide/show icon for the activity on your course page.)
- ID number
Setting an ID number identifies the activity for grade calculation purposes. See Using the Calculator Tool in the Moodle Gradebook.
- Group mode and Grouping
These options let you restrict the assignment to particular groups of students you have already created in Moodle. For more information, see Assign an Activity to a Group or Grouping in Moodle.
To add restrictions on accessing the activity, click Add restriction. The Add restriction window will open, containing the following options:
- Date. Prevent access until (or from) a specified date and time.
- Grade. Require students to achieve a specified grade.
- User profile. Control access based on fields within the student’s profile.
- Restriction set. Add a set of nested restrictions to apply complex logic.
If you have groups in your course, you will see the following additional options:
- Group. Allow only students who belong to a specified group, or all groups.
- Grouping. Allow only students who belong to a group within a specified grouping.
Note: You can assign an activity to a particular grouping or to a group without assigning it to a grouping by using restriction settings. This is only recommended for advanced users. For more information, see Assign an Activity to a Particular Group without Groupings.
Depending on the type of forum, students may be able to add topics as soon as the activity is available, or the instructor may need to initiate the discussion by posting a topic. For example, instructors must post a question to a Q & A forum before students can post.
To add a new topic to a forum:
- Click the link to the forum activity (not the edit icon, but the link to open the forum). The Forum page will open, showing the description you provided when you set up the activity. If no topics or posts have been added, you see "There are no discussion topics yet in this forum."
- If working with groups in the forum:
- To post a topic that will be visible only to a particular group, the Group mode for the forum must be set to Separate (on the Settings page for the forum), and on the Forum page, from the Groups drop-down menu (at top of page), select the group name.
- To post a topic that will be visible to all groups to read, but to which only a particular group can reply, the Group mode for the forum must be set to Visible (on the Settings page for the forum), and on the Forum page, from the Groups drop-down menu (at top of page), select the group name.
- To post the same topic for all groups, leave the Groups menu set to All participants.
- For more information, see Assign an Activity to a Group or Grouping in Moodle.
- Click Add a new discussion topic (for a Q & A forum click Add a new question). The Your new discussion topic page will open.
- Enter a subject and a message (both required).
- If subscription is set to Optional in the forum's settings, select the Discussion subscription check box to receive email copies of posts made to this forum. (This will affect you, not your students.)
- You may choose to add an attachment.
- Select the Mail now checkbox if you do not want the standard 30-minute delay before subscribers receive an email.
- Click Post to forum to post your message.
- You will be returned to the forum page with a confirmation message.
- Once replies have been made, click the link to the topic to view replies or add additional replies to the thread. (If read tracking is enabled, the number of unread posts will be indicated and links highlighted.)
To prevent further student contributions to a forum, change the Permissions for the activity to make it "read-only."
Note: Unlike Restrict access settings, this method of closing a forum does not hide the grade for the activity from students, and allows them to read posts made before the forum closed.
- On your course page, click the link to the forum. The Forum page will open.
- With the forum page open, go to the Administration block and click Permissions (not Check Permissions). The Permissions in Forum screen will open.
- In the Advanced role override drop-down menu, choose Student.
- Under the bold heading Activity: Forum, select Prevent for the following:
• Reply to posts
• Start new discussions
Do not change any other permissions.
- Scroll to the bottom of the list of permissions and click Save changes. (Students will immediately lose their ability to post, but will still be able to read what has been posted on the forum.)