How do I create an online discussion forum?

The forum activity can be used to hold discussions online between all users. To set up a forum, follow the steps below. (If you set-up a Q&A forum, there are additional steps at the end. Make sure to scroll all the way down!)

  1. Login to Moodle and click on the course to which you wish to add the forum.
  2. Click on the gray ‘edit’ gear wheel in the upper right corner of the page.
  3. From the drop-down menu which appears, select the ‘Turn editing on’ option.
  4. In the week to which you wish to add the wiki, click the ‘+Add an activity or resource’ link.
  5. From the pop-up menu, select the ‘Forum’ activity and click the ‘Add’ button.
  6. On the “Add a new Forum” screen, fill in the name and description for the forum.
  7. For the most common type of forum, leave the “Forum type” at its default of “Standard forum for general use.”
    There are 5 forum types:

    • A single simple discussion – A single discussion topic which everyone can reply to (cannot be used with separate groups)
    • 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
  8. Next, you can adjust, if you would like, the defaults for attachments, word count visibility, subscriptions, read tracking, and posting threshold. If you want all students to receive all posts to the forum, you can change the subscription mode to forced. You will rarely want to create a threshold for blocking. A threshold might be that students can only post once every 24 hours, for instance. You can generally skip this section.
  9. In Moodle 3.2 and later versions, you have the ability to lock the forum, but still allow the content to visible to students. To do this, select a time period of inactivity after which you want the forum to lock. NOTE: As of right now, there’s no way to set a specific date & time at which the forum will lock.
  10. In the “Grades” section, you can place the activity in an existing gradebook category (if you have any). You’ll notice that this is NOT the section where you would assign the point value for this forum. Instead, to grade a Forum, you will need to enable “Ratings.”
  11. To enable rating, you must choose the type of aggregation for the ratings first. Then, once you have selected an “aggregate type,” you can assign the maximum grade and add in date restrictions, if you would prefer. The “aggregate type” defines how ratings are combined to form the final grade in the gradebook.
  12. There are 5 aggregate types:
    • 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, then the activity will not appear in the gradebook.

  13. Once you have selected an “Aggregate type,” you will be able to assign/adjust the “Maximum points” value.
  14. You can then adjust any of the “Common module settings” or add additional restricted access. NOTE: if you want to create a forum for group work, where students can only see the content of their own group, you can change the “Group mode” to “Separate groups.” However, this means that you MUST have created and assigned students to groups in the course. Otherwise, no one will be able to access the forum.
  15. When you are done, scroll down to the bottom and click the “Save and return to course” button.

Additional Steps for Q and A Forums

If you choose a Q and A forum type, you will need to complete a few more steps to create a functional forum.

  1. When you select the forum type, you would select the ‘Q and A forum’ type. Make sure you do NOT put your questions in the description for this forum type.
  2. At the bottom of the settings page when you are creating the forum, choose to click on the “Save and Display” button.
  3. From the forum display page, click the “Add a new question” button. If you do not add a new question thread, the forum will not function in the way intended.
  4. Name your question and provide the content.
  5. I recommend reminding the students that:
    You must post your response first before you can view and respond to your fellow students. There is a 15-minute period between when you post and when you can view other students’ responses. During this time you can edit your own post. After those 15 minutes, you will no longer be able to edit your post.
  6. If you have set the forum for “optional subscription,” you can now choose to subscribe and receive emails for just this thread that you have created by checking the box next to ‘Discussion subscription.’
  7. You can then add any appropriate attachments.
  8. In Moodle 3.2 and later versions, you, as the instructor, have the ability to pin your posts so that they always appear at the top of the forum threads list.
  9. Click the “Post to forum” button.
  10. You will receive a message letting you know the post was successful and that you have 15 minutes to edit the post. As the instructor, you will actually always be able to edit the post.