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Adding Activities

4. Forum

The Forum provides a discussion forum facility for your course. The forum activity is likely to only be used in a tutor supported course.

If you set up a forum you will be responsible for moderating it and closing it when it is no longer required.  You must not set up a forum in a perpetually open course (no start and end date) which is not going to be monitored regularly by someone.

You need to have the Course Manager or Teacher role to be able to moderate a forum in a course on OpenLearn Create, so will need to complete the Data Declaration form to get this role (please contact the OpenLearn create mailbox to request the form). 

Step 1:

In your course, turn editing on.  Click on ‘add an activity or resource’.  The ‘add an activity or resource’ box will appear.  Under ‘activities’ select ‘Forum’.

This will tell you that ForumNG is a replacement for standard Moodle forum with most of the same features plus additional ones and a more dynamic user interface. NG stands for 'Next Generation'.

Click on ‘add’ then complete the ‘adding a new forum’ form.

You must provide your forum with a name.

Step 2:

Select the Forum type - Different types of forum are available for specific purposes or teaching methods. The standard forum type is appropriate for all normal use.  Choose one of the two options:

  • Standard forum for general use (default)
  • Study advice (only see own discussions)

Step 3:

The forum introduction is where you explain to the learners what the forum is for and how to use it.  It may also be a good place to mention basic forum netiquette.

Step 4:

Decide whether learners can subscribe to the forum via Email subscription - You can force everyone to be subscribed or set them be subscribed initially; the difference is that in the latter case, they can choose to unsubscribe themselves. These options include all users (students and staff) who are enrolled on the course. Users who do not belong to the course (such as administrators) can still optionally subscribe.

  • Everyone can choose to be subscribed
  • Force everyone to be subscribed
  • Everyone is initially subscribed
  • Subscription is not permitted

Step 5:

Maximum attachment site - This is the maximum total size for all attachments on a single post.

Email for reporting offensive posts - If this email address is supplied, then a Report link appears next to each post. Users can click the link to report offensive posts. The information will be sent to this address.  If this email is left blank, then the Report feature will not be shown (unless a site-level reporting address has been supplied).  More than one email address can be added so long as they are separated by a semi-colon

Enable anonymous moderator posts (default is unchecked) - Allows users that have 'postanon' capability to make their post anonymous by hiding their name from students.

Enable discussion tagging - Enable tagging in discussions for this forum and allow forum wide tags to be enabled.

Step 6:

Decide if you are going to allow learners to rate forum posts.

Allow posts to be rated - If enabled, forum posts can be given ratings using a numeric or defined Moodle scale. One or more people can rate the post and the displayed rating is the average (mean) of those ratings. If you use a numeric scale up to 5 (or fewer) then a nice ‘star’ display is used. Otherwise it’s a drop-down. The capabilities system controls who can rate posts and see ratings. By default, only teachers can rate posts, and students can only see ratings on their own posts.

You can also set a time period when posts can be rated.

Required ratings (default is 1) - If you set this option to 3, then the rating for a post will not be shown until at least 3 people have rated it. This can help reduce the effect of a single rating on the average.

Step 7:

Decide whether there will be any grading attached to learners writing in the forum by choosing the type of grading behaviour from the drop-down box (the default is No Grade):

  • No grade
  • Teacher grades students
  • Average of ratings
  • Count of ratings
  • Maximum rating
  • Minimum rating
  • Sum of ratings

Grade - if you select this option, a grade for this forum will be added to the course gradebook and calculated automatically. Leave this off for a non-assessed forum, or one you plan to assess manually. The different ways to calculate grading are self-explanatory; in each case, the grade for each student is calculated based on all ratings for all posts they have made. Grades are limited to the scale; for example if the scale is 0-3, the grading method is set to ‘count’ and the student’s posts have received 17 ratings, their grade will be 3.

Step 8:

Limit posts - You can choose to limit when learners can post to the forum using the limit posts setting, which has date fields.

Limit user posting - This option limits discussions and replies made by students (specifically, any users who do not have the 'mod/forumng:ignorethrolling' capability).  When a student is only permitted 3 more posts, a warning displays in the post form. After their limit runs out, the system displays the time at which they’ll be able to post again.

You probably will not need to touch the Common module settings unless you are using groups.
You can ignore Restrict access unless you need to add a restriction.

Step 9:

Click on Save and display.

The forum will appear.  It will include various buttons for learners, including one to start a new discussion and various buttons which you the moderator can use, including one for forum usage.

You can edit the settings for the forum in the ForumNG administration menu.

Form Activity Completion settings

Making forum activity a requirement for course completion may not be accessible for all learners of a course as some may have very valid reasons for not actively commenting in a forum. However, if it is desired and needed, the Activity completion setting for a forum includes several options for Completion tracking of 'Show activity as complete when conditions are met':

  • Require view (student must view this activity to complete it)
  • Require grade (student must receive a grade to complete this activity)
  • Require posts (user must post discussions or replies - specify a number)
  • Require discussions (user must create discussions - specify a number)
  • Require replies (user must post replies - specify a number)
  • Expect completed on (specify a date)

If there is one forum for the whole course which may result in several threads from different sections of the course, it is not possible to specify a level of granularity about required posts for specific activities if several activities involve forum participation. It is therefore better to set up a series of forum spaces, one for each activity or section of a course, so the ‘require posts’ or ‘require discussions’ or ‘require replies’ can be meaningfully identified as belonging to that activity.

If ‘require posts’ or ‘require discussions’ or ‘require replies’ are used, then it is not necessary to also set ‘student must view this activity to complete it’ because the learner will need to go into the forum to post or reply in it.