- The Announcements (or News) forum enables tutors and course administrators to send one-way messages to students (they can't post or reply).
- Learning forums can also be added to a Moodle course to allow students (as well as staff) to post questions and reply to other posts. Learning forums is the name for any forum that is added to Moodle by a course editor, e.g. not the Announcements (or News) forum.
- Advanced forums have similar functionality to standard learning forums, but have the following additional features: anonymous search bar, anonymous posting, the teacher can mark posts as substantive, staff can view an aggregated report on the number of posts and replies made in a forum, and how many substantive posts.
- facilitate peer learning,
- keep students active and engaged through debate and discussion,
- help build a community of support amongst and between students and staff,
- support student satisfaction e.g. when students have their questions answered quicker by their peers, or find them already answered on the forum,
- help staff reduce the number of emails they receive, and
- provide a running record of student engagement which can facilitate reviewing a course, or building a FAQ resource.
Learning forums can be used to facilitate asynchronous discussion and learning activities that take place before, after, or as a supplement to face-to-face or live learning. They enable both staff and students to post and reply to posts and are usually are set to allow students and staff to choose whether or not to become or remain subscribed to a forum. Question and Answer forums are often set up for students to ask questions about the course work or assessment processes.
Advanced forums are used primarily where anonymous discussion is requiredforums are essentially the same as Learning forums, but they added features; search bar, reporting tool, and the option to enable anonymous mode. Anonymous discussion may encourage students to post more freely or ask more questions without the fear that their lack of knowledge will stand out, . Staff can also post anonymously to seed debate and discussion. There is a known issue with anonymity in Advanced forums whereby emails sent out to forum subscribers allow the recipients to discern the identity of 'anonymous' posters. Where advanced forums have been set to allow anonymous postings anonymity can be maintained by setting 'Subscription disabled' in the forum's settings.
Examples and case studies
- Deliver an e-tivity, or online activity with a purpose, offering a ‘spark’ to provoke discussion, opportunities for students to respond to the prompt either individually or as part of a group, and end with a wrap-up or summary task. Examples include critical debate, case study analyses, and roleplay exercises. See Asynchronous discussion wiki for guidance and examples.
- Teaching and learning with discussion forums case study report.
- Dr. Stacey Prickett, from the University of Roehampton, motivated students to participate in her course's discussion forum by allowing students to integrate their posts into the course's summative essay. Read the case study to find out more.
- Using forums effectively - ways to improve engagement by Kitty Horne from the University of Sussex, provides great tips.
- How to best use Forum in Moodle courses: Ideas and tips by professionals provides broad ideas and a number of use cases.
- Post an announcement to let students know that a lecture is cancelled or a service isn't working.
- Offer an icebreaker activity where students and tutors introduce themselves and share personal experiences or reflections.
- Deliver an e-tivity, or online activity with a purpose, offering a ‘spark’ to provoke discussion, opportunities for students to respond to the prompt either individually or as part of a group, and end with a wrap-up or summary task. Examples include critical debate, case study analyses, and roleplay exercises.
- Provide a wellbeing space or student corner, where students can share experiences and resources that aren't necessarily directly related to the course.