Using Forum

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This page contains extra information for students and teachers about using the forum activity.

For all users

Permalinks

New feature
in Moodle 3.1!

A permalink allows you to link directly to a specific forum post so you can share it easily with others. You will see the permalink option when clicking to reply to a post. If you click the permalink (1), it is highlighted to the side (2) and you will have a particular web address (3) which you can then copy and paste to use elsewhere:

Linking directly to a single post

Forum preferences

Users can set their forum preferences via Preferences in the user menu top right. (Defaults for each of these settings can be set by an administrator in Administration > Site administration > Accounts > User default preferences.)

Track read and unread forum posts

  • Access the Preferences page from the user menu and select 'Forum preferences'.
  • For 'Forum tracking', choose Yes: highlight new posts for me and if the forum administrator has set the 'Read tracking for this forum?' to On or Optional then unread posts will be highlighted for you:
Unread posts alert

The posts will be highlighted in the following places:

  • Dashboard
  • Course page
  • Within the forum itself
  • In forum discussion threads
Click to mark as read

Only posts made in the last two weeks are tracked as read or unread. Older posts are all reported as read.

Display options

Reply display options
A discussion thread may be displayed in four ways. Use the pull down menu at the top of each forum discussion to select a display type.
  • Display replies flat, with oldest first
  • Display replies flat, with newest first - The discussion will be displayed in one line and the chronological order from the newest to the oldest. This is the same as the above, just a different sort order.
  • Display replies in threaded form - Only the post starting the discussion will be displayed in its full form; replies will be reduced to the headlines (including information about its author and date of release) and organised chronologically; moreover, replies will be shifted towards the right so that only replies to the same post were in the same line.
  • Display replies in nested form - All posts are displayed in their full forms; replies will be reduced to the headlines (including information about its author and date of release) and organised chronologically; moreover, replies will be shifted towards the right so that only replies to the same post were in the same line.
Flat Forum discussion, example from middle
Posts in threaded form
"Nested reply example"

Forum posting

The default content of Subject is usually 'Re: <the name of the 'parent' post>'. You can change it though.

Adding images, sound and video

  • When an image is "attached" as a file to a forum message, it is immediately displayed full size after the message (i.e. no need to click on an attachment). This an excellent way of sharing images without having to go through the process of uploading them as files and linking them from within web pages.
  • Images may be dragged and dropped into the box as well as uploading via the "add" link and the File picker.
  • If multimedia filters are enabled, a sound file (mp3) or accepted video file can be attached and it will be embedded into the forum post in an appropriate player.

Post editing time limit

Once a post has been made, students can go back and edit it within set time limit. This is usually 30 minutes and is set by an administrator in Site administration > Security > Site policies'. Note that teachers can always edit their posts.

Moving between forum threads

Links top and bottom left and right (where applicable) take you to the previous and next forum discussion in a list:

navigateforums1.png

Reply to posts via email

If enabled by an administrator (in Incoming mail configuration), you can reply to forum posts via email.

(1) Click the Reply by email link in the email.

(1a) You will see a special unique email address to send your reply to.

(2) Reply using the email address provided. IMPORTANT: Make sure you remove the original email content so that your forum post does not contain the quoted text.

(3) You should receive an email saying your reply has been successfully posted.

(4) Your post now appears in the forum.

(1) Click to reply by email
(1a) Note the special email address to reply to
(2) Type and send your reply
(3) The success message
(4) Your reply is posted to the forum


navigateforums1.png

Exporting forum posts

Users with the mod/forum:exportdiscussion or mod/forum:exportownpost or mod/forum:exportpost permission can export forum posts to any portfolio the administrator has enabled:

Exportforum.png

See the discussion Printing/exporting forum discussions for further details.

For teachers

Pinned posts

New feature
in Moodle 3.1!

When adding a new discussion as a teacher, you can make it 'sticky' by ticking the box to 'pin' the discussion to the top of the list. Any forum discussions which come after that will appear underneath this pinned post. If you later untick the box to 'unpin' it, it will display as a regular forum discussion, moving down the list when others are posted.

pinnedpostexample.png

'Send forum post notifications with no editing time delay'

Teachers (and others with the capability to manage course activities) will see this option when posting to a forum. Ticking this box will send a notification to everyone subscribed to that forum with no editing time delay. (Users normally have 30 minutes to edit their posts.)

Note: For users who have enabled email digests in their forum preferences, the notification is NOT sent separately from other forum post notifications.

Display period

Teachers (and others with the capability mod/forum:viewhiddentimedposts) can set a display period of a date and time for the forum post to appear.

timedposts.png

Note: Timed forum posts was included in previous versions of Moodle as an experimental feature. In Moodle 3.1 onwards it is enabled by default for new installations. For sites upgrading from a previous version, it may be enabled via Site administration > Plugins > Activity modules > Forum.

Moving a discussion

Teachers and other users with the capability to move discussions can move a discussion to any other forum in the course for which they have appropriate rights.

  1. Click on the arrow in the 'Move this discussion to...' dropdown menu in the top right corner of the page and select a destination forum.
  2. Click the Move button.

Note: Moving a forum post will display incorrect results in the course participation report for the affected forums. For example, take a student who posted in forum A and had their post moved to forum B. In the course participation report the student will still be listed has having made a post in forum A, but will not be listed as having made a post yet in forum B.

Note: Discussion subscriptions are retained when a post is moved.

Splitting a discussion

Teachers and other users with the capability to split discussions can split a discussion thread. Splitting a discussion means that beginning with the post selected and going to the end of that sub-thread, the posts are cut from the current discussion topic and put into a newly created discussion topic. If discussion has strayed away from the original topic, splitting the discussion can provide new attention and space for the tangent discussion while keeping the original discussion on topic.

  1. Click the link 'Split' in the forum post
  2. Enter a new discussion name (optional)
  3. Click the Split button

Note: Discussion subscriptions are NOT retained when a post is split.

Using groups with forums

'Group mode' available from the Common module settings has three options. (Note that you must have groups in your course to use this feature.)

If the group mode is 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.
  • 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.

Where visible groups are used, the user's own groups will be shown first in the list, followed by other groups:

mygroupsfirst.png

Note: Single simple discussions cannot be set to separate groups (as this feature is not implemented). Instead, a standard forum should be used. If required, a permissions override may be set to prevent students from starting new discussions. For teachers who have access to all or several groups in a forum, this setting allows them post the same message once only to all groups.

Where teacher have access to several groups, they can post the same message once only to all the groups they have access to by selecting 'All participants' and clicking the Add a new discussion topic button:

forumdiscussiongroup1.png

Once they have typed the post, they tick the box 'Post a copy to all groups':

forumdiscussiongroup2.png

When saved, the post will be reproduced for each group:

forumdiscussiongroup3.png

Ideas for using forums

Ask yourself

  1. you wish to have involvement in the forum or if you want the students to lead and own the space
  2. you want the forum to add value to the face to face environment or have a life of its own in its own right outside the lecture theatre/classroom or seminar room
  3. you are prepared to make appropriate contributions to the discussion in order to:
    1. encourage discussion if students are quiet
    2. help shape ideas if students begin to wander off-task
    3. your role will be defined as discussions/a course progresses
    4. you will explicitly but gradually relinquish control of the discussions
    5. you will encourage and support learners to share control of discussions(for example you might ask a learner/group of learners to summarise contributions to a discussion thread/topic or you might ask learners to initiate discussion topics)
(WIP)