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Create a Forum (Updated July 2020)

A discussion ‘Forum’ enables both staff and students to hold conversations in the form of posted messages.

This guide covers:

Before you start, please take a look at this guide which details the different forum types which can be created.


Adding a Forum to your course

  • Click on the Turn editing on button (top right of your screen).
  • If not already open (collapsed topic format), click on the topic where you would like to add the ‘Forum’.
  • Click on ‘Add an activity or resource’ 
  •  Select the forum activity and then click the ‘add’ button at the bottom:


Setting Up a Forum

Forum name – A short name of the forum, which will be displayed on the course homepage.

Forum type – There are five forum types to choose from:

  • A single simple discussion – A single discussion topic which everyone can reply to.
  • Each person posts one discussion – Each student can post exactly one new discussion topic, which everyone can then reply to.
  • Q and A forum – Students must first post their perspectives before viewing other students’ posts.
  • Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format – An open forum where anyone can start a new discussion at any time, and in which discussion topics are displayed on one page with “Discuss this topic” links.
  • Standard forum for general use – An open forum where anyone can start a new discussion at any time

Forum introduction – Place the description of the forum here. It is a good practice to include precise instructions for students regarding the subject of the forum and the rating and grading criteria that might be used in this forum.


Add a due date or cut-off date – In the forum settings, scroll down to ‘Availability’ to set a due date and a cut off date. Having done so, the Forum due date will appear as a course event on the QMplus Calendar and in the list of Upcoming events.

Maximum attachment size – The maximum file size that may be attached to a forum post will first be determined by the QMplus site settings. The teacher may want a smaller size limit for the forum. Server file capacity, student downloading speeds and discouraging images in a document centered discussion are a few reasons to limit file size.

Maximum number of attachments – The maximum number of attachments a user can add to their forum post (from 0 to 100) can be specified here.

Subscription mode – There are 4 subscription mode options:

  • Optional subscription – Participants can choose whether to be subscribed
  • Forced subscription – Everyone is subscribed and cannot unsubscribe. Forcing everyone to subscribe is especially useful in the news forum and in forums towards the beginning of the course.
  • Auto subscription – Everyone is subscribed initially but can choose to unsubscribe at any time
  • Subscription disabled – Subscriptions are not allowed, it prevents Students from subscribing to a Forum.

The subscription mode and subscribe or unsubscribe links appear in the Settings menu under Forum administration when viewing the forum. Teachers can change the mode via the ‘Subscription mode’ options and view/remove/add the current subscribers via the ‘Show/edit current subscribers’ link.

RSS feed for this activity – This turns RSS on or off for this forum. When set to ‘None’, RSS is disabled. When set to ‘Discussions’, the RSS feed will send out new discussions to subscribers. When set to ‘Posts’, the RSS feed will send out any new posts to subscribers.

Number of RSS recent articles – This number sets the number of articles that go out via RSS. If this number is set to 5, then the 5 most recent articles will be sent to subscribers. As new posts (or discussions) get added, the oldest post/discussion gets replaced on the RSS feed.

Post threshold for blocking – Students can be blocked from posting more than a specified number of posts in a given period.

Common Module Settings
Using groups with forums -The group mode setting has three options:

  • No groups
  • Separate groups – each group can only see their own group; others are invisible
  • Visible groups – each group works in their own group, but can also see other groups

Teachers, and other users with the capability set to allow, can view and post in all forum discussions, regardless of the group mode setting.

Visible to students –You can hide the activity from students by selecting ‘Hide’ here. It is useful if you wouldn’t like to make the activity available immediately.

Grading forums –The teacher can use the ratings scales to grade student activities in a forum. There are several methods for calculating the grade for a forum that can be found in the Forum settings under grades. There are 5 ways to aggregate ratings automatically to calculate a forum grade for the Gradebook. These include: Average, Max, Min, Count and Sum.

Forum ratings – uses Scales to standardize the reporting in order to allow users to evaluate posts in a forum. A forum rating can be included as part of a student’s grade. For example, a teacher might use a custom rating scale in a forum and allow students to rate forum posts. When rating is allowed, the qualified user will see ‘Rate this post’ and a pull down menu after an entry (not their own). The menu displays a scale that the forum creator selected in the Forum grade settings. The user can rate more than one post at a time. When finished they should click the ‘submit my ratings’ button at the bottom of the page.

Managing a Forum

The July 2020 QMplus upgrade incorporates a number of new forum features.

Forum grading – To use forum grading, you must enable grading in the forum settings. Having done this, the page will now show a ‘Grade Users’ button next to ‘Add a new discussion topic’. This enables you to easily read and grade the posts of a particular student, using the full range of advanced grading options available in the grading panel.



Forum summary report – From the forum settings menu, a new summary report gives detailed information about each participants’ discussion, replies, attachments, word count and so on, and an ‘export’ option is also available.

 



Export a forum discussion – It is also possible to export an entire forum discussion. To do so, select the forum discussion in question, scroll to the bottom of the Settings menu on the right of the page, and select the ‘export’ button.

Nested view – In your forum preferences, you can opt to try an experimental nested discussion view.

Add discussions on the same page – When clicking to ‘Add a new discussion topic’, a user will be able to type and post their message from the same page, rather than redirecting to the settings page.  If the user wishes to access the full forum display, they can click on ‘Advanced’ to be taken to the full settings page.


Quickly reply inline – Replies can also be made inline (from the same page, rather than redirecting to type the message), as explained above. This makes interacting with students quicker and easier.

Star discussions – Any forum user is able to ‘star’ a discussion. On the main forum page, click the three dots to the right of the discussion title, or the star on the left, in order to keep the discussion toward the top of the list.

Sort discussions – At the top of the third column, which supplies the creation dates of discussions, you are able to sort the posts. This will make it easier to find a certain discussion topic.

Reply privately – When responding to students’ posts in the forum, you can tick the ‘reply privately’ button, and your message will only be visible to anyone involved in the private discussion. This function is only available for teachers.


Manually lock threads – Using the three dots to the right of a discussion title, teachers can manually lock the discussion, so no one can continue posting or replying. This will then display as a padlock, which will be visible to anyone viewing the forum. The locking function is only available for teachers.

 

 

Did this answer your query? If not, you can raise a ticket on the online Helpdesk or email: its-helpdesk@qmul.ac.uk . Alternatively you can also request a particular guide or highlight an error in this guide using our guides request tracker.

Produced by the the E-Learning Unit at Queen Mary University of London.
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