Moodle Forums are a great way to encourage communication, collaboration and debate amongst students and are very easy to set up. Students and staff can interact with one another and that can occur at different times and when people are in different places. This blog post introduces the major improvements to Forums in Moodle 3.8 and presents some ideas of how you can use Forums.
What’s new in Forums in Moodle 3.8?
|Gradeable Forums||You will be able to grade Forum contributions as part of your module assessment. The new Forum grading area provides an aggregated view of a student’s posts and discussions on a Forum.|
|Summary Report||If you want an overview of each students’ contribution to a Forum, even if you are not engaged in grading, the Summary Report provides information on the number of discussions started and posted by each student.|
|Lecturer can reply to a student privately in a Forum||Lecturers can contact individual students to provide additional information or feedback by marking a reply as private. This means that the conversation takes place on the Forum and not via email (though the system may notify the student via their email).|
|Star and sort Forum posts||Organise and prioritise your Forum posts using the Favourite icon.|
|Improved Experimental nested discussion view||In Moodle 3.8, you can change your Forum display. The experimental nested discussion view is more minimalistic and removes the boxes. If you like a more separated view of a Forum, it’s a preference setting so each user can decide.|
|Inline editing||Inline editing provides a more intuitive user experience for replying to Forum posts.|
|Ability to lock discussions manually||Lecturers and Course Officers can lock old discussions so that students can no longer reply.|
|Forum due dates are added to calendar||Students are able to effectively manage due dates for Forum activities via the Moodle Calendar.|
This video provides an overview of grading Forum entries, introduces the summary report and demonstrates how to change the Forum view to your preference.
How can I use Forums?
Like any learning activity, think about what you are trying to achieve and design the Forum activity to meet your learning outcomes. For online activities, you need to be clear with what you are trying to achieve and articulate your expectations to staff and students. Completing an activity planner can help you to consider the different elements in the activity.
Foster a sense of community and help students to get to know each other
Icebreaker activities can help to form a feeling of community amongst students at the beginning of a module and can be facilitated using the Forum. An icebreaker also provides an opportunity for students and staff to get comfortable with the Forum’s features.
Develop academic writing skills and promote discussion and debate
Discussion Forums can be used to facilitate:
- summarising and paraphrasing activities,
- interactive literature reviews,
- worksheets. This activity works really well with the Q & A Forum. In this type of Forum, the lecturer posts a question and students respond with possible answers. By default, a Q and A Forum requires students to post once before viewing other students’ postings.
- debate or discussion on a topic.
In large cohorts, you can use Group Forums to help promote discussion and engagement.
Provide support and advice
- An opening activity, such as questions about the lecture or post it note reflections can be facilitated a few days in advance of a lecture to encourage students to ask questions about upcoming content and what they have learned. You can encourage peer support through the use of group Forums.
- A Help Forum enables staff to address any student concerns collectively and reduce email traffic.
- A News/Announcement Forum enables lecturers and Course Officers to post important updates to students. Students are not able to respond to posts made on this type of Forum.
Advance HE have put together some really useful tips and suggestions to help foster student engagement with forum activities.
We’d love to hear from you about your experiences in using forums. You can use the comments section to share any tips about how to get the most out of forum activities and what to avoid!
Find out more about Moodle 3.8
This post is part of our series, What’s new in Moodle 3.8.