Forum settings

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Note: You are currently viewing documentation for Moodle 2.4. Up-to-date documentation for the latest stable version is available here: Forum settings.

Adding a forum, showing General and Grade sections
To add a forum:
  1. With the editing turned on, in the section you wish to add your forum, click the "Add an activity or resource" link (or, if not present, the "Add an activity" drop down menu )and choose Forum.
  2. This will take you to the forum settings page titled "Adding a new forum".

In an existing forum, the following settings can be found in Settings > Forum administration > Edit settings.

Forum administration settings

Forum name

A short name of the forum (e.g. "Favourite colour"), which will be displayed on the course homepage.

Forum type

There are five forum types to choose from:

Forumtypes.png

  • A single simple discussion - A single topic discussion developed on one page, which is useful for short focused discussions (cannot be used with separate groups)
  • Standard forum for general use - An open forum where anyone can start a new topic at any time; this is the best general-purpose forum
  • Each person posts one discussion - Each person can post exactly one new discussion topic (everyone can reply to them though); this is useful when you want each student to start a discussion about, say, their reflections on the week's topic, and everyone else responds to these
  • Q and A Forum - Instead of initiating discussions teacher poses a question in the initial post of a discussion. Students may reply with an answer, but they will not see the replies of other Students to the question, until they have themselves replied to it.
  • Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format

A News forum is a special type of forum that is automatically created with a new course.

Forum introduction

Place the description of the forum here. It has the standard Moodle HTML editor toolbar to assist the teacher.

TIP: It is a good practice to include precise instructions for students regarding the subject of the forum and the rating and grading criteria that might be used in this forum (see below).

Subscription mode

When a user is subscribed to a forum it means that they will receive notification (via popup and/or email, depending on the user’s messaging settings preferences) of each new posting. By default, posts are recorded about 30 minutes after the post was first written. Depending upon the email settings of each forum member, they may be sent an email immediately after the 30 minute edit window is closed, or in a batch at a time fixed by the site administrator (see below).

People can usually choose whether or not they want to be subscribed to each forum. However, the teacher can choose to force subscription on a particular forum then all course users will be subscribed automatically, even those that enrol at a later time.

There are 4 subscription mode options:

  • 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.

The subscription mode and subscribe or unsubscribe links appear in the Settings menu under Forum administration when viewing the forum. teachers can quickly change the mode via the 'Subscription mode' options and view the current subscribers via the 'Show/edit current subscribers' link.

Tips:

  • Forcing everyone to subscribe is especially useful in the news forum and in forums towards the beginning of the course (before everyone has worked out that they can subscribe to these emails themselves).
  • Changing the setting from "Yes, initially" to "No" will not unsubscribe existing users, it will only affect those who enrol in the course in the future. Similarly changing "Yes, initially" will not subscribe existing course users but only those enrolling later.
  • There is also a "Subscriptions not allowed" setting which prevents Students from subscribing to a Forum. Teachers may choose to subscribe to a forum if they wish.

Note: There is currently a bug with forum subscription as forum subscribers are not updated when a forum with 'Optional subscription' mode is changed to 'Auto subscription'. See MDL-32125 for details.

Read tracking for this forum?

"Read tracking" for a forum allows users to track read and unread forum posts.

There are three options for this setting:

  • Optional (default) - Students can turn tracking on or off for the forum via a link 'Track / Don't track unread posts' in Administration > Forum administration
  • On - Tracking is always on in this forum (so no link in Administration > Forum administration)
  • Off - It is not possible to track unread forum posts

Note: The first two options require users to also have forum tracking set to yes in their profile settings. Currently the forum tracking profile setting overrides the read tracking forum setting. This problem has been reported in the tracker as MDL-29663.

Maximum attachment size

The maximum file size that may be attached to a forum post will first be determined by the Moodle site settings. The teacher may want a smaller size limit for the forum. Server file capacity, student downloading speeds and discouraging images in a document centered discussion are a few reasons to limit file size.

Maximum number of attachments

The maximum number of attachments a user can add to their forum post (from 0 to 100) can be specified here.

Post threshold for blocking

Students (i.e. users which don't have the 'Exempt from post threshold' permission) can be blocked from posting more than a specified number of posts in a given period.

Grade

Forum posts can be rated using a scale (pre existing number or word scales). By default, only teachers can rate forum posts, though students can be given permission to do so if desired (see Forum permissions below). This is a useful tool for giving students participation grades. Any ratings given in the forum are recorded in the gradebook.

Aggregate type

You can set an aggregate type, in other words, decide how all the ratings given to posts in a forum are combined to form the final grade (for each post and for the whole forum activity). Some scales do not lend themselves to certain types of aggregates. There are five options:

  • Average of ratings (default) - This is the mean of all the ratings given to posts in that forum. It is especially useful with peer grading when there are a lot of ratings being made.
  • Count of ratings - The counts the number of rated posts which becomes the final grade. This is useful when the number of posts is important. Note that the total can not exceed the maximum grade allowed for the forum. A count may be used if the teacher simply wants to acknowledge that a reply was given in the case students being required to make a certain number of posts in the discussion. Note: Count of ratings does not work for the "Separate or Connected Ways of Knowing" scale or custom scales due to the limitation imposed by the max grade.
  • Maximum rating - The highest rating is returned as the final grade. This method is useful for emphasising the best work from participants, allowing them to post one high-quality post as well as a number of more casual responses to others.
  • Minimum rating - The smallest rating is returned as the final grade. This method promotes a culture of high quality for all posts.
  • Sum of ratings - All the ratings for a particular user are added together. Note that the total is not allowed to exceed the maximum grade for the forum. Note: Sum of ratings does not work for the "Separate or Connected Ways of Knowing" scale or custom scales due to the limitation imposed by the max grade.

Restrict ratings to posts with dates in this range

The teacher can allow only posts within a certain date range to be rated. This is useful if the teacher wants to keep students focused on the most recent content and maintain a specific pace within the forum or course.

RSS feed for this activity

This turns RSS on or off for this forum. When set to “None,” RSS is disabled. When set to “Discussions,” the RSS feed will send out new discussions to subscribers. When set to “Posts,” the RSS feed will send out any new posts to subscribers.

Number of RSS recent articles

This number sets the number of articles that go out via RSS. If this number is set to 5, then the 5 most recent articles will be sent to subscribers. As new posts (or discussions) get added, the oldest post/discussion gets replaced on the RSS feed. If your forum gets a lot of posts every day, you will want to set this number high.

The administrative cron (admin/cron.php) must run after the forum is created and posts or discussions have been made. Otherwise the user will receive an error "Error reading RSS data"

Note: RSS feeds must be enabled for the site and for forums in order for the RSS settings to appear.

Common module settings

Using groups with forums

The group mode setting has three options:

  1. No groups
  2. Separate groups - each group can only see their own group; others are invisible
  3. Visible groups - each group works in their own group, but can also see other groups

If the group mode is set to separate groups:

Adding a new discussion topic to a forum set to separate groups
  • Teachers are given the option of adding a new discussion topic for all participants or for a selected group. If a teacher adds a new discussion topic for a selected group, then only group members can reply to it. If a teacher adds a new discussion topic for all participants, then students can't reply to it. (This is to ensure that groups are kept separate.)
  • Students can only start discussions for their own group.
  • Students can only reply to discussions started by other group members or discussions for their own group started by a teacher.

If the group mode is set to visible groups:

  • Teachers are given the option of adding a new discussion topic for all participants or for a selected group. If a teacher adds a new discussion topic for a selected group, then only group members can reply to it.
  • Students can only start discussions for their own group.
  • Students can only reply to discussions started by other group members or teachers.

Teachers, and other users with the capability moodle/site:accessallgroups set to allow, can view and post in all forum discussions, regardless of the group mode setting.

Note: Single simple discussions cannot be set to separate groups (as this feature is not implemented). Instead, a standard forum should be used, with the teacher copying and pasting the same discussion topic for each separate group. If required, a permissions override may be set to prevent students from starting new discussions.

Visible to students

You can hide the activity from students by selecting "Hide" here. It is useful if you wouldn't like to make the activity available immediately.

ID number

Setting an ID number provides a way of identifying the forum for grade calculation purposes. If the activity is not included in any grade calculation then the ID number field can be left blank.

Locally assigned roles

In Settings > Forum administration > Locally assigned roles selected users can be given additional roles in the activity.

Forum moderator

A student can be given the rights to moderate a forum by assigning them the role of non-editing teacher in the forum.

  1. In Settings > Forum administration > Locally assigned roles click on student
  2. Select the student from the potential users list on the right, and use the Add button to add them to the existing users list on the left. Multiple users may be selected by holding down the Apple or Ctrl key whilst clicking on the users' names.

See also Forum moderator role.

Forum permissions

Role permissions for the activity can be changed in Settings > Forum administration > Permissions.

Forum permissions.png

Common permissions changes include:

Enabling students to rate posts

Click the Allow icon (+) opposite the capability to rate posts and allow the role of student.

Archiving a forum

A forum can be closed / archived so that students may no longer start new discussions, nor add replies, but can still read all the discussions by clicking the Prevent icon (X) for the student role for the capabilities 'Start new discussions' and 'Reply to posts'.

Guests and posting in a forum

There are certain things, such as posting in a forum, that guests are never allowed to do, despite the permissions interface suggesting otherwise.

The guest role has some special functionality, for example when a guest user attempts to post in a forum, they obtain the message "Sorry, guests are not allowed to post. Would you like to log in now with a full user account?"

(Note: If guests don't obtain the "Sorry, guests are not allowed to post" message because they have no reply link, then self enrolment needs enabling in Settings > Course administration > Users > Enrolment methods.)

If you wish guests to be able to post in a forum, you can create a similar role, say "visitor" with very few permissions allowed, then create an account and assign it the role of visitor. Guests can then share this visitor account.

Anything else you'd like to achieve with a forum permissions change? Please add your suggestions to Talk:Forum settings!

User administration settings

Users can choose whether or not to track unread posts in their profile settings under 'Forum tracking'. The settings are:

  • Yes: highlight new posts for me
  • No: don't keep track of posts I have seen

If the user chooses 'Yes: highlight new posts for me' and the forum administrator has set the 'Read tracking for this forum?' to On or Optional then the user will have new posts highlighted for them. The posts will be highlighted in the following places:

  • My home page
  • Main Course page
  • Within the forum itself
Show unread on forum page

Site administration settings

The forum module has additional settings which may be changed by an administrator in Settings > Site administration > Plugins > Activity modules > Forum and, for 'Maximum time to edit posts', in Settings > Site administration > Security > Site policies.

Use email address in reply

By default, a user's email is set as the 'From' address for forum notifications (unless the user has hidden their email address in their profile) so that recipients can choose to reply personally rather than via the forum. To set noreply@yourmoodlesite.org as 'From' address for all forum notification emails, untick the forum_replytouser checkbox.

Long and short posts

The long and short post setting determine how forum posts on the site front page, social format course pages, and user profiles are displayed. (Note: There is currently an unresolved issue - "Site news - forum length setting has no effect for certain users" - MDL-4781.)

Enabling timed posts

Timed forum posts may be enabled i.e. having the option to set a display start and end date for a new discussion. Timed posts can then be created by users with the capability to view hidden timed posts (normally admins and teachers).

Maximum time to edit posts

This specifies the amount of time people have to re-edit forum postings, glossary comments etc. Usually 30 minutes is a good value. The setting may be changed by an administrator in Settings > Site administration > Security > Site policies.

Mark post read after 'X' days

This setting is forum_oldpostdays and specifies the number of days after which any post is considered to be read. E.g. If this is set to 14 days then any post older than 14 days will be considered read. If you set this to 0 then ALL posts are instantly considered to be read. If you don't want any posts to be considered read without the user reading them then set a high figure (e.g. 1000)