How to set up a Forum
Watch a video on how to add a Forum to your LEO unit. Otherwise, follow the steps below.
To add a forum to your LEO unit you need to:
- Navigate to your LEO unit
- Click 'Turn editing on'
- Scroll to the section in your Moodle site you would like to add the Forum to, then click on ‘Add an activity or resource’. From the options given under the ‘Activities’ heading, select ‘Forum’ and then click on ‘Add’. In the new page that opens up you will be able to edit the settings for your Forum.
NOTE: Clicking on any of the section headings in the settings page will expand that section. Alternatively, you can click on ‘expand all sections’.
- At minimum, you will need to give your Forum a name. However it is also useful to enter text in the ‘Description’ text box, so that your students know what the Forum activity is for, and what you would like to them to do in it. Click on the box next to ‘Display description on unit page’ if you would like the description to be visible from the main page of your LEO unit.
- By default your Forum type will be 'Standard forum for single use'. However there are five Forum types to choose from. The selection you make at this stage will alter the way your student's are able to interact with the Forum activity. More information about these Forum Types is available under the 'Forum types' heading of this LEO Guide.
- Once you have selected your settings as appropriate, click on ‘Save and return to unit’ to return to the main page of your LEO unit.
There are several different kinds of forums, each suited to a different context and with varying key features.
You can select the type of Forum you would like to add to your LEO Unit under the 'General' tab in your settings page. Simply click on the dropdown menu next to 'Forum type'.
A brief description of each type of Forum is included below:
- Standard forums for general use: An open forum that allows participants to create their own topics, post and reply. Whilst a standard forum provides the most open format it can generate a lot of discussion to keep track of. This is where you need to set expectations around how much time, as a teacher, you will invest in responding to posts, or if it is for peers to respond only.
- Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format: An open forum where anyone can start a new post. Topics are displayed on a single page with links to ‘discuss this topic’.
- Each person posts one discussion: Participants can only post one topic, which everyone can then reply to. This is good if you want to create a body of knowledge where each student is responsible for only one topic.
- A single simple discussion: A single topic everyone can reply to (cannot be used with separate groups). Keeps the postings on topic.
- Q&A forum: Participants must post their answer before seeing other replies. This is a useful forum to use to provide equity in allowing all participants to respond without feeling they are repeating previous comments.
Watch a video about the pros and cons of different Forum types.
You can access the settings page of your Forum by clicking on 'Turn editing on', then clicking on the 'edit' icon to the right of the Forum's title. Select 'Edit settings' from the options provided.
NOTE: Clicking on any of the section heading on the settings page will expand that section, allowing you to edit the settings as appropriate. Alternatively, you can click on ‘expand all sections’.
There are a number of additional settings you should be aware of when you are setting up your Forum. These are outlined for you below:
Attachments and word count
This setting specifies the maximum size file that can be attached to any one Forum post or reply. The default attachment size is 2Mb, but this can be increased to 20Mb. The maximum number of attachments is 5, but can be increased to 100. You don’t really need to change these defaults for the majority of uses, but you may want to increase the number of attachments if you are conducting a literature review, for example. Finally, you can display the word count for each posting.
Subscription and tracking
You can force subscription of a forum for your participants (as happens with the News forum), which means they will automatically receive an email of posts within a forum. ‘Auto subscription’ means when a participant posts into a forum they are automatically subscribed, but allows them the option to turn-off subscription later. An ‘Optional subscription’ allows your students to choose at the time of posting whether to subscribe or not. You can also force or disable the subscription function.
If 'Read tracking' is enabled, you and your students will be able to keep 'track' of which posts they have read, and which remain unread, within the Forum.
Post threshold for blocking
Sometimes you may wish to moderate activity to help you administer the forum. For instance you may want a participant to be only able to post three times a week, to encourage reflection and concise writing skills. You can set the time period for blocking, the number of posts they are allowed to submit, and provide a warning when they sre approaching the threshold you have set.
The 'Ratings' Setting allows you to 'grade' each of your students posts.These marks are automatically recorded in the gradebook if ratings are set up for the activity (see below).
You must first save your forum before you can access roles to provide rate permissions to. Ratings can be aggregated to;
- Average of ratings - The mean of all ratings
- Count of ratings - The number of rated items becomes the final grade. Note that the total cannot exceed the maximum grade for the activity
- Maximum - The highest rating becomes the final grade
- Minimum - The smallest rating becomes the final grade
- Sum - All ratings are added together. Note that the total cannot exceed the maximum grade for the activity
If ‘No ratings’ is selected the activity will not appear in the gradebook. If you choose a rating then you will be asked to select a scale. Point grading allows you to enter the maximum grade available, whilst scales are used by units such as ACUcom competency scales.
You can also restrict the date range that marking is to occur within.
- To learn more about using ratings to grade Forum posts within LEO, please see our LEO Guide, How to use ratings to grade Forum posts.
Common module settings
Allow you to control access to the activity, and an ID number can be used to calculate a grade from forum use.
You can choose to ‘hide’ the visibility of the link in your unit if you are still setting up the activity, as well as force group mode restrictions to the activity.
A number of restrictions to the activity can be made depending on;
- The completion of another activity, i.e. the succesful completion of a Quiz
- A date
- A grade
- Group membership
- Individual profiles
- Or a more complex set of interactions…
Activity allows you, and your participants, to track their progress through a unit of study. You can quickly see how far your students have progressed through a unit by using activity completion. You can set completion to be marked by your students, or when conditions for an activity have been set. These conditions can include;
- Posting or creating topics
- Replying to posts