Forums in Moodle
Each empty Moodle section comes with only one item: News Forum. Now here’s what is different about the News Forum: communications go one way, teacher to student. Everyone in the course receives a copy of the forum post but no one can respond to it. Consider the News Forum to serve an announcement function. If you need to cancel class unexpectedly, if you made a mistake with a quiz or a grade or a due date, send everyone a message from News Forum and they will not only receive it in their Sage email, as you will, but the message will be maintained in the News Forum so that students can easily find that item again even if they deleted it. And you have documentation that the information was sent.
One caution: often at the beginning of the course, not every student is registered and in Moodle yet. So when you send a welcome message, which we recommend, those late registrants will not receive the email but they will have access to the message in the News Forum.
What can you do with the News Forum? You can change the title to Announcements or move it up and down once you have other items.
What you cannot do with News Forum: you cannot repurpose the News Forum to another type of forum because students cannot respond to it.
What you should not do with the News Forum: delete it? No, you should keep it and use it to welcome students to the class and to send out important updates and information.
What should you do with the News Forum: use it sparingly. Because students cannot unsubscribe, you don’t want them to come to the point that they ignore your postings. Send a welcome message with a url pointing the way to the course. Then use the News Forum for important and time sensitive information.
There are four types of these forums: Standard forum for general use; Q and A forum; Each person posts one discussion; and A single simple discussion. I’ve put these in the order of utility, in my judgement. We’ll address the first two, most commonly used forums here. If you want to know more about any of the forum types, click the small orange circle with a question mark when you open your forum setup page.
Standard forum for general use is the most frequently used forum type in the Sage Moodle community. It allows you to post questions and see responses in a threaded outline.
Q and A forum: When you use this forum type, students cannot see any other posts until they first post their response to the question. This prevents the following on or borrowing of others’ opinions or answers.
Recommendations for the design of a forum – post 3 to 5 questions in each forum. This allows you to develop some depth in the forum, moving from lower to higher levels of thinking. It also allows you to make more use of each forum rather than posting one question per forum. Number each question you post because the questions move around in the list based on who responded last. Numbering the items makes it possible for students to see the order in which they should respond.
Do not post your question or a list of questions in the forum setup screen. That is where you should describe the forum. Use the “Add a discussion topic” to add each question. And remember to number your questions.
You probably know that you can grade the forum entries. Let me know if you have any questions about grading or such.