Student Moodle Guide
Using Discussion Forums
Think of Forums as an online message board, where you, your classmates, and your instructor can post messages to each other at any time. Depending on how your instructor has set up the forum, you may be able to post your own discussion message, or you may only be able to reply to the message that the instructor posted.
A forum consists of discussion topics and replies. To get a better understanding of the elements of a forum, let's imagine that the forum is a large message board that is advertising Accommodation available for students. One area on the board advertises the on-campus residence, while another shows area apartments for rent. You can consider these areas as "discussion topics". If a student is interested in the on-campus residence, and posts a note with a question, or with their contact information, that would be considered a "reply". As you can see, the forum has an overall topic (Student Accommodation), the discussion topics (On-campus residence, Apartments for rent) relate to the forum, and individual posts (student contact info) are replies to the discussion topics.
You can enter directly into a specific forum by clicking on the link in your Moodle course (as shown on the right). Once you've entered the forum, click on "Add a new discussion topic" (as shown below) to post your message.
Every time someone responds to a discussion post, their response will get added to the list of responses below the "parent" (the first discussion started) post. You can choose to view these discussions and responses as a nested form, as a flat form, or as a threaded form, by selecting an option from the drop down box. The options are shown in the examples below.
The "Nested Forum" style shows each reply indented below the post it is responding to. This is a good option to use if you want to see all the posts listed in full.
The "Flat Forum" style shows all replies in the order that they were posted directly below the parent post.
The "Threaded Forum" type shows the parent post and the heading and author for each reply listed below. You would use this if you didn't want to see all the posts listed in full. This method requires more clicking.
If you are replying or adding to something that a classmate or your instructor has said, you will want to use the "Reply" link rather than adding a new discussion post. In the picture below you can see the "Reply link shown at the bottom right of the post.
When you are subscribed to a forum it means that you will be sent email copies of every post in that forum (email copies are sent about 45 minutes after the post was first written in the course discussion forum). Sometimes this can be helpful and other times it can be annoying.
You can usually choose whether or not you want to be subscribed to each forum. However, sometimes your instructor will force subscription on a particular forum (usually on the News Forum) and the choice to subscribe or unsubscribe is taken away. Everyone in the class will get email copies of posts to that forum.
NOTE: You also have the option of subscribing to a forum at the time of posting to it. Just above the "Post to forum" button you will see a drop-down list of subscription options. You can choose whether you want to be subscribed (send me email copies) or unsubscribed (I don't want email copies).
Changing Subscription and Forum Settings in Your Profile
To get to your profile from your course home page, click on the word "Profile" in the Administration block on the left side of the page. Click on the Edit Profile tab. In your profile settings there are a few different options for managing forum posts in your course.
Email Digest Type: This setting allows you to determine how you want the forum posts to come to you.
No digest: each post will come to you in its own, separate email.
Complete: on each day there are new posts in the forum, you will receive one email listing all the day's posts in full.
Subjects: on each day there are new posts in the forum, you will receive one email listing all the subject heading of the day's posts.
Forum auto-subscribe: This will set the default setting for the subscription feature. As described previously, each time you submit a post in a forum, you have the option to be automatically subscribed to that forum as soon as you click the "Post to forum" button. The selections in forum auto-subscribe will set the default settings show above in the Forum post options diagram.
Tracking Unread Posts
If you've chosen the option to track your posts, you'll be able to see not only the total number of posts to a forum, but also how many posts you have not yet read. One of the easiest ways to track new posts is to scan your course home page and you will see new posts listed right next to the forum name. In the example below showing a snapshot of the links down the center of a home page, you see that it shows there are "4 unread posts" in the forum "Module 3 Q&A". You can simply click on the words "4 unread posts" to go directly to those forum posts.
When you are already inside a forum you will see your posts tracked in the Unread colum. For example, in the discussion shown below, there were 3 replies to the "Moodle training manual" post, and there are 4 posts that are unread. This means that you have not read the original post (1) or any of the replies to that post (3). 1 + 3 = 4 unread posts.
To open your unread posts, click on the number in the unread column. To view all the posts in the discussion topic, click on the link in the Discussion column. To clear your list of unread posts, click on the checkmark at the very top.
The Forum List
Clicking on "Forums" from the Activity Block of your course homepage, will display a list of all the forums in your course, along with your option status. An example, with descriptions of each option, is shown below.
- The total number of discussion topics posted to this forum.
- The total number of posts that you have not yet read.
- Shows whether or not you are tracking the forums. If it says "Yes" then you are already tracking the forum and you can click the button to stop tracking it. If it says "No" you are not tracking that forum and you can click the button to begin tracking it.
- Shows whether or not you are subscribed to the forum.
- Indicates if a feed is available for the forum. This option may not be enabled in your course so you might not see this column.