Adding Forums

The forum activity allows students and teachers to exchange ideas by posting comments as part of a thread. Files such as images and media maybe included in forum posts. The teacher can choose to rate forum posts and it is also possible to give students permission to rate each others’ posts. Forums serve different functions than chats, which are not rated or often stored. The following guide explains how to create forums and set them up for use.

How do I create a forum?

  1. Navigate to your Moodle site and turn editing on.
  2. Scroll down to the topic or week you would like to add a forum to.
  3. Select Add an Activity or Resource.Screenshot of Moodle course with arrow pointing to "Add an activity" link
  4. In the windows that pops up, select Forum for an activity and then Add.
  5. On the Add a forum page, provide a Forum name.
  6. Add a Description in the next field. This text will appear at the top of the forum as the first thing students see. Do not post the discussion prompt here; questions are best added when adding a discussion thread later.
  7. Select whether to display description on course page. Do not enable this if you have a long description that will clutter the course page.
  8. Select a Forum type. Each type has special functions. If you’re not sure which type you want, leave this setting as is.
    • A single simple discussion: The teacher would post one question, and students can respond to it.
    • Each person posts one discussion: The teacher and each student has the opportunity to post a discussion.
    • Q and A forum: Students answer a question and requires them to put their answer before seeing the answers of other students.
    • Standard forum displayed in blog-like format: Anyone can start a new discussion at any time. Discussion topics are displayed on one page.
    • Standard forum for general use: This is the default option. Only teachers can add discussion threads, but there can be multiple discussions in one forum. Students can view other students’ response before writing their own. Students cannot add new discussion threads.
  9. In Attachments and word count, select the maximum size and number of attachments. Decided whether to Display word count.
  10. In Subscription and tracking, select the subscription mode for participants.
    • Optional subscription: Participants can choose whether to be subscribed.
    • Forced subscription: Everyone is subscribed and cannot unsubscribe.
    • Auto subscription: Everyone is subscribed initially but can choose to unsubscribe at any time.
    • Subscription disabled: Subscriptions are not allowed.
  11. Choose a Read tracking option. If enabled, participants can track read and unread posts in the forum and in discussions. There are three options:
    • Optional: Participants can choose whether to turn tracking on or off via a link in the administration block. Forum tracking must also be enabled in the user’s profile settings.
    • Forced: Tracking is always on, regardless of user setting. Available depending on administrative setting.
    • Off: Read and unread posts are not tracked.
  12. The Post threshold for blocking section is useful for limiting participation of students dominating discussion threads. Students can be blocked from posting more than a given number of posts in a given time period. Select the Time period for blocking.
  13. Post threshold for blocking specifies the maximum number of posts which a user can post in the given time period before being blocked.
  14. Post threshold for warning warns students as they approach the maximum number of posts allowed in a given period.
  15. In the Ratings section, you can set up how student posts will be recorded in the gradebook. Only the roles of Manager, Teacher, Non-Editing Teacher, Community Teach, and Course Editor can rate posts; student users cannot rate posts.
  16. Select an Aggregate type for the ratings. It defines how rating are combined to form the final grade 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:The highest rating becomes the final grade
    • Minimum: The smallest rating becomes the final grade
    • Sum: All ratings are added together. Note that the total cannot exceed the maximum grade for the activity.

    If “No ratings” is selected, then the activity will not appear in the gradebook.

  17. Select the type of Grade used for this activity. If scale is chosen, you can then choose the scale from the scale dropdown. If using point grading, you can then enter the maximum grade available for this activity.
  18. Select to Restrict ratings to items with dates in a range to emulate a due date. Posts made before or after the specified time cannot be rated.
  19. Select Save and display.

 

Setting up a Forum Before Discussion

After creating a forum, you must do a little more set-up before it is ready to be used by students. You must add at least one discussion to the forum to make it usable.

  1. Navigate to the course site and select the forum you would like to add to.
  2. Select Add a new topic.Screenshot of online forum with arrow pointing to "Add new discussion" button
  3. Choose a Subject for the topic. Be descriptive and concise; think of this as the subject line of an email.
  4. Write the Message in the next box. This text will be the first post at the top of the discussion thread.
  5. Choose to enable or disable Discussion subscription. Subscribing to a discussion means you will receive notifications of new posts to that discussion.
  6. Select an Attachment. This can be useful, especially if your discussion is based on source material from a pdf. If you attach an image, it will be displayed after the message.
  7. Select whether to Mail now. This will notify discussion participants (both Teacher and Student users) via email that a new discussion has been posted.
  8. Select which Group of participants in the course will see the discussion topic, if applicable. New discussions are visible to all participants by default.
  9. Select Post to forum.

Grading Forums

In order to grade students’ posts directly with the Moodle gradebook, you must first set up ratings for the forum.

  1. Select the forum you would like to enable ratings for.  On the forum homepage, select Edit settings in the Administration block.
  2. Scroll down to the Ratings section and expand it.
  3. In the Ratings section, you can set up how student posts will be recorded in the gradebook. Only the roles of Manager, Teacher, Non-Editing Teacher, Community Teach, and Course Editor can rate posts; student users cannot rate posts. Students can see ratings on their own posts only.
  4. Select an Aggregate type for the ratings. It defines how rating are combined to form the final grade 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 – The highest rating becomes the final grade
    • Minimum – The smallest rating becomes the final grade
    • Sum – All ratings are added together. Note that the total cannot exceed the maximum grade for the activity.

    If “No ratings” is selected, then the activity will not appear in the gradebook.

  5. Select the type of Grade used for this activity. If scale is chosen, you can then choose the scale from the scale drop down. If using point grading, you can then enter the maximum grade available for this activity.
  6. Select to Restrict ratings to items with dates in a range to emulate a due date. Posts made after the specified time cannot be rated.
  7. Select Save and display.

Now that ratings are enabled, you can begin rating posts in a discussion. Remember, students will not be able to rate each other. They cannot see the ratings of their peers’ posts either.

  1. Select the discussion topic you would like to rate.
  2. Select a rating from the drop down menu for each post as applicable.
  3. Changes are automatically saved and added to the gradebook.
  4. To view a breakdown of who gave each rating, select the grade. A window will pop up specifying which user gave which rating.

For more on administrating forums, visit Moodle’s own documentation. After creating a forum, take some time to learn how participants use forums. Once you know how to create and use forums, explore chats, another discussion platform on Moodle.