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Communicate and collaborate with forums guide

Explore how to use the different types of Moodle forums for communication and collaboration.

About forums

Forums are a great way to encourage communication, collaboration and debate between students and staff. Forums allow students and staff to interact with one another even when people are taking part at different times and in different places. Forums can be used for a wide range of activities from informal communication to graded projects.

How can I use forums?

Foster a sense of community and help students to get to know each other

Icebreaker activities in a Forum can help to form a feeling of community among students at the beginning of a module. An icebreaker also provides an opportunity for students and staff to get comfortable with the Forum’s features. You could ask students to post a message to a Getting to Know You Forum and ask the group members to reply to three other students.

These activities should be carried out in a dedicated Forum to not muddle them with more academically focused work.

Develop academic writing skills and promote discussion and debate

Forums can be used to facilitate:

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 or FAQ Forum enables lecturers and course officers to address any student concerns collectively and reduces email traffic. Students can explore previously asked questions and answers and this type of Forum can encourage peer support.
  • An Announcements/News forum enables staff to post important updates to students. Students are not able to respond to posts made on this type of Forum.

Many of the activities in the Small Group Teaching Activities blog can be easily adapted to be presented in forums. 

Workshop recording: Use forums to develop a sense of community

Forum types

A News forum is created for each new module. This Forum type is for staff to post announcements. It is not a discussion Forum for students. Students are unable to reply to News forum posts. You can't convert a News forum into another type of Forum

In addition to the News forum, staff can add more forums, choosing from four different types of forum. Any of these four Forum types can be can be set-up as group forums.

Standard forum for general use

This type of Forum can be used for students to share information and ideas and to ask general questions about the course. A lecturer can use this Forum type to stimulate debate on a module topic. Students can view the list of discussions posted. They can reply to discussion posts and can start a new discussion (thread).

Standard forum displayed like a blog

Similar to the Standard forum for general use, but the text of the first post of each discussion is displayed as in a blog. Students can read the posts and can respond by selecting the Discuss this topic button at the bottom right of the post. Students can also add new topics to this Forum type.

Lecturers post a question and students are only able to reply. Students cannot start a new topic of discussion. This is a useful Forum type if you need to keep a discussion focused.

Each student is able to post only one discussion. This requires the student to consider their response before posting, and also means that all students can contribute equally.

This Forum type is suitable when a particular question needs to be answered. 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. Students don’t have to worry about whether someone else has posted a similar reply or whether their reply goes against the prevailing class opinion. Once a student has posted to the Forum, they can view and comment on other students' posts.

Group forums are a great way to encourage collaboration and communication between project groups. Group forums can help you to manage communication and collaboration when teaching large groups of students. Any of the Forum types (with the exception of News forum) can be created as group forums.

A group forum requires you to set up Groups, and sometimes Groupings, in advance to organise your students into smaller cohorts. The relevant Groups/Groupings settings are applied in the Common module settings for the Forum.

New Forum features

Moodle 3.9 - Improvement to forum summary reports

You will be able to easily generate a summary report of activity on your module forums. These snapshots show how many posts, discussions and words each student has contributed to a Forum.

Enhanced filtering means that you can easily tailor your reports to view activity that took place within a specific date range. If you have groups on your module, you can create a report that shows the contributions made by each group.

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