A forum is where asynchronous communication takes place between all members of a class – teaching staff and students. You can limit access to certain users and groups. A forum is made up of a series of discussion topics and replies.
Creating a forum
- Login to Moodle and navigate to the course you want to add a forum to.
- Make sure editing is turned on (Turn editing on – piece of paper with pen icon in the top left hand corner).
- Go to the section where you want the forum to appear and click Add an activity or resource.
- Select Forum and click Add.
- Fill in the resulting form – make sure you give the forum a name.
- Subscription and tracking – make sure you select Auto subscription for the Subscription mode.
- Restrict Access – here you can set if a forum should only be available to certain groups of students or at certain times.
- Click Save and return to course.
Creating a new topic
- Open your forum and select a group (if the forum is set up to handle groups) and click Add a new topic.
- Give your topic a subject (make this clear for ease of searching at a later date) and type the contents of your topic into the message.
- If you need more advanced features like attaching files or pinning the topic to the top of the forum click Advanced there you can:
- Add attachments – add these in the Attachment section
- Pin your post – select Pinned. This means your post will appear at the top of the forum and stay there.
- Remove the post time delay – if you have this option you can make sure notifications about your post are emailed immediately rather than wait the 30 minutes for potential editing. Please note this will only apply to subscribers who have chosen to receive individual emails for each post rather than a daily digest.
- Click Post to forum
Replying to messages
- Open your forum and click on Discuss this topic to view and make replies.
- Click Reply on the post you wish to reply to.
- Write your reply – again if you need some advanced capabilities click Advanced (file attachments or removing the post time delay).
- Click Submit (or Post to forum on the advanced page).
Forums to maintain confidentiality
Sometimes it is useful to make sure a forum is only available to particular staff and students. To do this there are a few extra steps needed from those shown above. Anyone staff member who needs access to the forum needs to have an Editor role in your course – someone who is an Administrator in your course can assign the new role. In order to make sure only those users can access the forum you’ll need to change the permissions on the forum.
- Login to Moodle and navigate to the course with your forum in.
- Click on the Forum to open it.
- From the Administration block (usually on the right-hand side of the page) go to Forum administration > Permissions.
- Find View discussions under the Activity:Forum heading – this will show you all the roles that can currently access the current forum.
- Delete all the roles that you don’t want to view the forum using the x button and add extra roles with the + button. You should be left with something like: Editor, Convenor and Local student.
Organising the permissions in this way allows only the roles selected to view the forum. As the people you have chosen to view the forum have been given the additional role of ‘Editor’ they can access the forum, along with whoever has the role of ‘Convenor’. If you want the ‘Administrator’ to view the forums, then just add the role of ‘Administrator’.
It is important to remove the ‘Staff’ role. This is because all staff enrolled in Moodle are enrolled as ‘Staff’ by default. With this default ‘Staff’ role, you can view most pages on Moodle, which includes all pages made ‘visible’ to ELM and ALM. This means that if someone with the ‘Staff’ role member accidentally clicks on a forum on any page, they will not be able to access the discussions. This is why the role of ‘Editor’ is assigned to the particular staff member(s). It blocks unwanted ‘Staff’ from accidentally clicking on the forum and possibly viewing confidential material, while allowing selected staff to view the discussions.
It is important to tell the staff who have been assigned the role of ‘Editor’ to not click the ‘Turn editing on’ button as they then can edit the page.