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Add a Forum Activity in Moodle

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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. Depending on the forum settings, course members may be able to subscribe if they want to receive an email copy of each post made to a particular forum.

Forum Types

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
    Allows multiple topics arranged in a threaded conversation. Students may start new topics in this format.
  • Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format
    Allows 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 in the course can read. See Set Up Student Journals in Moodle
  • Announcements
    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.

Add a New Forum to Your Course

  1. In the menu bar at the top of your course page, click Turn editing on (green pencil icon Turn editing on (green pencil icon), top right). Editing icons and links will appear.
  2. Locate the section where you plan to add the forum. (If the section is collapsed, click the arrow icon above the Section name to expand the section.)
  3. At the bottom-right of the section, click + Add an activity or resource. The Activity chooser will open.
  4. In the Activity chooser, select Forum. The Adding a new Forum page will open.
  5. On the Forum page, configure settings for the forum. For more information on these options, see Configure Forum Options (below).
  6. Click Save and return to course.

Configure Forum Options

When you add a Forum activity to a Moodle course, you can choose from a number of settings. 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 recommend keeping the name short.
  • Description
    We strongly recommend that 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.


  • Due date
    If you want to specify a due date for postings in the forum, select Enable, then use the calendar or drop down lists to specify when postings in the forum are due.  Although this date is displayed in the calendar as the due date of the forum, posting will still be allowed after this date.
  • Cut-off date
    If you want to disallow postings after a certain date, click Enable, then use the calendar or drop down lists to specify when to stop allowing postings in this forum.

Attachments and word count

  • Maximum attachment size
    Determines the maximum size allowed for a single attachment. (If a student can attach multiple files, and attaches files at different times, the total can exceed the set size.)
  • Maximum number of attachments
    Determines the maximum number of attachments an individual student can upload for their submission
  • Display word count
    Determines whether the word count of each post is displayed.

Subscription and tracking

  • Subscription mode
    Subscription mode determines whether and how students can choose to subscribe to the forum and receive an email copy of each post made. The subscription choices include:
    • Optional subscription (default) - Participants can choose whether to be subscribed or not (recommended). For details, see Manage Email Notifications in Moodle for Students.
    • 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. For details, see Edit Your Moodle Profile & Preferences. 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 the content to be 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 the 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.

Discussion locking

Discussions may be automatically locked after a specified time has elapsed since the last reply.

  • Lock discussions after period of inactivity
    From the drop-down list, choose a period of inactivity after which discussions will be locked.

Post threshold for blocking

This setting limits the number of posts students can make in a period of time.

  • Time period for blocking
    This setting limits the number of posts students can make in a period of time. From the Time period for blocking drop-down menu, select a time period during which student posts will be blocked according to the criteria specfied in the Post threshold for blocking and Post threshold for warning settings.​

Note: When you specify a time period for blocking, the Post threshold for blocking and Post threshold for warning options will appear.

  • Post threshold for blocking
    If a time period for blocking has been set, this setting specifies the maximum number of posts that 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 when (after the specified number of posts) they are warned.

Whole forum grading

Forums can be optionally graded using either a scale or point system.  Select the type of grading, then specify the settings for that option.

  • Grade
    Select the type of grading used for the forum. For scale grading, choose the scale from the drop-down menu. For
    point grading, enter the maximum grade available for this forum.
  • Grading method
    Choose the advanced grading method to be used for calculating grades in the given context. There are two options for the advanced grading methods, “Grading guide” and “Rubric.” To disable advanced grading and switch back to the default grading method, choose “Simple direct grading.”
    For more information on the two advanced grading methods, please see Grade with Rubrics or Grading Guide in Moodle.
  • Grade category
    Select a Category in your gradebook under which you would like the assignment grade to be placed. For more information on creating a category in your gradebook, see Grade Category Options in the Moodle Gradebook.
  • Grade to pass
    The value is used in the forum, in completion (if Completion tracking is enabled), and in the gradebook. Pass grades are highlighted in green and fail grades are in red.
  • Default setting for “Notify students”
    Set the default value for the Notify students checkbox on the grade form.


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 you can see the Moodle roles allowed to submit ratings. To change the list of roles with permission to rate, select Permissions from Actions menu (Screenshot of Action Menu) for this forum.
  • 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:
    • No ratings - If selected, the activity will not appear in the gradebook.
    • 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.

After you select an aggregate type, You can specify additional settings for that type.

  • Scale
    From the pull-down list, select the type of grading use for this activity. For Scale grading, select the scale from the drop-down menu. For Point grading, enter the maximum grade available for this forum.
  • Restrict ratings to items with dates in this range
    If this check box is selected, you can set a date range during which a post must be made in order to receive a grade. Use the calendar or drop-down lists to specify the start and end dates for this range.

    For more on grading see Grade Forum Contributions in Moodle.

Common module settings

  • Availability
    Set whether the forum is available to students. By default, new forums are set to “Show on course page.” If the availability is set to “Hide from students,” the forum is only available to users with permission to view hidden activities.
  • ID number
    Setting an ID number identifies the activity for grade calculation purposes. For details, see Custom Grade Formulas 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.

Restrict access

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.

Add a New Topic to a Forum

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:

  1. On your course page, click the link to the forum (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."
  2. If working with groups in the forum:
    • To make the posts visible only to a particular group, first set the Group mode for the forum to Separate (on the Settings page for the forum, under Common module settings). Then, from the Separate groups drop-down menu (at top of page), select the group name for the group that can see posts in this topic.
    • To post a topic that will be visible to all groups to read, but to which only a particular group can reply, first set the Group mode for the forum to Visible (on the Settings page for the forum, under Common module settings). Then, from the Visible groups drop-down menu (at top of page), select the group name for the group that can reply to this topic. 
    • To post the same topic for all groups, leave the Separate roups or Visible groups menu set to All participants
    • To filter posts by group, on the Forum page, from the Separate groups or Visible groups drop-down menu (at top of page), select the group name.

    For more information, see Assign an Activity to a Group or Grouping in Moodle.

  3. Click Add a new discussion topic. (For a Q & A forum click Add a new question).
  4. Enter a subject and a message (both required).
  5. If subscription is set to Optional in the forum's settings and you want to receive a copy of posts made to this forum via email, click Advanced to open the Your new discussion topic page and select the Discussion subscription checkbox. (This will affect you, not your students.)
  6. If you want to add an attachment, you can do so from the Your new discussion topic page.
  7. Optionally, select any remaining options you want for this post on the Your new discussion topic page:
    • Pinned - Pinned discussions will appear at the top of the forum
    • Mail now - Eliminates the the standard 30-minute delay before subscribers receive an email
    • Post a copy to all groups - Posts a copy of this message to all groups you have access to
  8. Click Post to forum to post your message. You will be returned to the forum page with a confirmation message. 
  9. 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.)

Close a Forum and Prevent Further Student Posts

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 it allows them to read posts made before the forum closed.

  1. On your course page, click the link to the forum. The Forum page will open.
  2. On the Forum page, select the Actions menu (Screenshot of Action Menu). A drop-down Actions menu will open. 
  3. From the Actions menu drop-down list, select Permissions (not Check Permissions). The Permissions in Forum page will open.
  4. In the Advanced role override drop-down menu, choose Student.
  5. Under the bold heading Activity: Forum, select Prevent for the following:
          •  Reply to posts
          •  Start new discussions
    Do not change any other permissions.
  6. 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.)