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Set Up Student Journals in Moodle

Moodle does not come with a pre-configured activity for individual student journals, but you can set up journals using a Forum. You can make journaling spaces private so that only the instructor and TAs can read students' posts, or you can allow students to read but not edit or comment on each other's posts. Both private and public formats allow you to collect multiple submissions from each student over time and give them a single grade for the activity.

For Private Journals, Use 'Separate' Groups of One

To set up individual journals that can only be viewed by instructors and teaching assistants:

  1. Before you add the activity, you must first create one-person groups named for the individual students in your course and add those groups to a grouping (named, for example, "Individual Students"). The groups and grouping can be set up automatically; see Create One-person Groups Named for Individual Students in Moodle.
  2. In the menu bar at the top of your course page, select Turn editing on (green pencil icon pencil icon). Editing icons and links will appear.
  3. Locate the section where you want the resource to appear. If the section is collapsed, click the arrow icon above the Section name to expand the section.
  4. At the bottom of the section, click + Add an activity or resource. The Add an activity or resource pop-up will open showing a tile for each available resource or activity.  
    Note: By default, the panel opens to All and shows all resources and activities. If you have starred favorite activities or resources, the panel will open to Starred. To only view activities, at the top of the pop-up, click Activities.
  5. (Optional) On the Forum tile, for information, click the Information icon (information icon). If you frequently add forums, click the Star icon (Favorite star icon) to add this activity type to the Starred tab.
  6. Select the Forum tile. The Adding a new Forum page opens.
  7. For Forum name, enter a name for the activity (required), e.g., "Private Journals."
  8. For Description (not required but recommended), enter an explanation of how your students should use the forum.
    Note: This is a good place to let students know that journal posts will be "private" (viewable only to instructors and TAs) and other students in the class will not be able to read them.
  9. For the Forum type, select Standard forum for general use or Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format.
  10. In the Common module settings area, from the Group mode drop-down menu, choose Separate Groups.
  11. From the Grouping drop-down menu, select the single-student groups (e.g., "Individual Students").
  12. Click Save and Return to course.
  13. To read your students' posts, click the link to the activity. By default, instructors see All participants posts. Use the Separate groups drop-down menu (at top of screen) to sort by student and see only one student's posts at a time.
    ascreenshot of the groups drop-down  (Click to enlarge)
    Note: Instructors and TAs can reply to student posts to give feedback. As with your students' posts, your replies will be private.

For Individual Journals Viewable by All Course Members, Use 'Visible' Groups of One

To set up individual journals that can be viewed by anyone in the course, and where each student's posts can be collected on one page:

  1. Before you add the activity, you must first create one-person groups named for the individual students in your course, and add those groups to a grouping (named, for example, "Individual Students"). The groups and grouping can be set up automatically; see Create One-person Groups Named for Individual Students in Moodle.
  2. In the menu bar at the top of your course page, select Turn editing on (green pencil icon pencil icon). Editing icons and links will appear.
  3. Locate the section where you want the resource to appear. If the section is collapsed, click the arrow icon above the Section name to expand the section.
  4. At the bottom of the section, click + Add an activity or resource. The Add an activity or resource pop-up will open showing a tile for each available resource or activity.  
    Note: By default, the panel opens to All and shows all resources and activities. If you have starred favorite activities or resources, the panel will open to Starred. To only view activities, at the top of the pop-up, click Activities.
  5. (Optional) On the Forum tile, for information, click the Information icon (information icon). If you frequently add forums, click the Star icon (Favorite star icon) to add this activity type to the Starred tab.
  6. Select the Forum tile. The Adding a new Forum page opens.
  7. For Forum name, enter a name for the activity (required), e.g., "Journals."
  8. For Description (not required but recommended), enter an explanation of how your students should use the forum.
    Note: This is a good place to let students know that other students in the class will be able to read, but not comment on, their posts.
  9. For the Forum type, select Standard forum for general use or Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format.
  10. In the Common module settings area, from the Group mode drop-down menu, choose Visible Groups.
  11. From the Grouping drop-down menu, select the single-student groups (e.g., "Individual Students").
  12. Click Save and Return to course.
  13. To read the journal posts, click the link to the activity.  The most recent posts appear at the top of the list.
    • Instructors and TAs, by default, see All participants posts. Use the Visible groups drop-down menu (at top of forum page) to sort by student and see only one student's posts at a time.
      Note: Instructors and TAs can leave replies on posts. In this mode, replies are NOT private; they will be viewable to everyone in the course.

      a screenshot of the groups drop-down  (Click to enlarge)
    • By default, students see only their own posts. However, they can use the Visible groups drop-down menu (at top of forum page) to select either All participants or a particular student's posts. Students cannot reply to any post that is not their own.
      Note: Students must select their own name in the Visible groups drop-down menu to add or edit a post. This is useful information to include in the forum description.