The Forum activity module enables participants to have asynchronous discussions i.e. discussions that take place over an extended period of time.
There are several forum types to choose from, such as a standard forum where anyone can start a new discussion at any time; a forum where each student can post exactly one discussion; or a question and answer forum where students must first post before being able to view other students' posts. An instructor can allow files to be attached to forum posts. Attached images are displayed in the forum post.
New UR Courses sites begin with a News forum. Unlike other forums, this one is solely for instructor communication. Students are not able to add posts or reply to any posts made in this forum. It works well for announcements and posts are highlighted in the Latest Announcements block. If you delete this forum, you will not be able to re-add it through the Activities menu.
Forums have many uses, such as:
- A social space for students to get to know each other
- For course announcements (using a news forum with forced subscription)
- For discussing course content or reading materials
- For continuing online an issue raised previously in a face-to-face session
- For instructor-only discussions (using a hidden forum)
- A help centre where tutors and students can give advice
- A one-on-one support area for private student-instructor communications (using a forum with separate groups and with one student per group)
- For extension activities, for example ‘brain teasers’ for students to ponder and suggest solutions to
Setting Up a Forum
Setting up a forum
- Within the Topic where you want the Forum to sit, click Add an activity or resource/then click Activities/ then click Forum
- Forum name: Name the Forum descriptively
- Description: Type a description of what the Forum is for into the text box.
- Forum Type: Choose Standard Forum for general use (the rationale for the other choices is explained in the UR Courses User Guide, and won’t be addressed here)
- Attachments and word count: Toggle to 32mb to maximize the file size of attachments that may be submitted to the Forum (Let the other toggles be, as they aren’t critically important)
- Subscription and Tracking: You can ignore this
- Discussion Locking: You can ignore this
- Forum Availability: Toggle the date to when you want this discussion to close, allowing no more postings afterwards
- Post Threshold for Blocking: You can ignore this
- Turnitin Plagiarism Settings: You can ignore this
- Grade: You can ignore this
- Ratings: Toggle Aggregate type, if you plan to directly grade the students’ postings. If you choose something other than No ratings, then the Maximum grade box will light up, and you then enter the number that you are going to rate each forum posting out of. You can ignore Restrict ratings to items with dates in the range, if you have already toggled a Read only date
- Common module setting: Ignore all toggles, unless you plan to form Groups for discussions. If you plan to use groups, click here for guidance.
- Restrict Access: You can ignore this
- Click Save and return to course: you will then find your Forum in the topic where you created it.
Setting up Groups
- On the home page of your course, click the edit icon (gears) at the far right end of the coloured banner
- Then click Users
- Then click Groups
- Then click Auto-create groups
- Naming Scheme: You can ignore this, and your Groups will automatically have letter identifiers
- Auto-create based on: Toggle and choose either Number of groups or Members per group
- Group/member count: type in the reasonable number of members or number of groups that works for you (ideally, groups should have 5-7 members)
- Group members:
- Select members with role: choose Student
- Allocate members: choose Randomly
- Toggle Prevent last small group; you can ignore the other toggles
- Click Submit and a summary page will appear
- Click Overview and the names of your Groups will appear, along with the Group members (names of the students in each group)
- Copy this information and paste it into your News Forum (on your course Home page)
- Now go to your Discussion Forum and Edit settings.
- Click Common module settings/ then toggle to Visible groups or Separate groups. Students will ow be assigned to Discussion groups, as shown on the Overview page, and as you have posted in the News Forum
Whole Forum Grading
When whole forum grading is enabled, grading options appear for the instructor use. There is also a forum summary report to view student statistics.
To Add Whole forum grading:
- Turn editing on
- +Add an activity or resource in the desired topic area
- Choose the Activities tab, then Forum
- Type the Forum name and description
- Choose a Forum type. Example: Standard forum for general use
- Optionally choose, additional settings such as availability and discussion locking
- Under Whole forum grading choose
- Grade type Point
- Maximum grade. Example: 10
- Additional settings are optional
- Choose the Save and display button
To Use Whole forum grading:
- Select the name of the forum
- There will now be a Grade users in the forum, for instructors to easily read and grade a specific student
- A collapsible side panel opens
- Use the search box or left-right arrows find and move through students and their forum contributions
- Enter student grade and choose save
- Select close when finished marking
Access the Summary Report:
- Select the name of the forum
- Select the Actions menu
- Select the Summary report link
- The report shows, name, number of posts, replies, attachments, views, word count, time, and offers a single student export
Participants can subscribe to a forum to receive notifications of new forum posts. An instructor can set the subscription mode to optional, forced or auto, or prevent subscription completely. If required, students can be blocked from posting more than a given number of posts in a given time period; this can prevent individuals from dominating discussions.
Forum posts can be rated by instructors or students (peer evaluation). Ratings can be aggregated to form a final grade which is recorded in the gradebook.