By Chris Fulton, Centre for Teaching and Learning Enhancement
Discussion forums in Moodle can be an engaging aspect of a course, both in-class and out of class. Online forums are considered the best tool for students in a class to share ideas, seek help about assignments, and obtain peer feedback. Typical applications of discussion forums, which are described by Cornell University’s Center for Teaching Excellence, include giving and receiving feedback on student presentations or work, getting familiar with new topics, and involving introverted thinkers by providing time to reflect and respond. In addition they are a great way to build community; ask each student to post a biographical sketch or picture of their favorite activity, have students brainstorm in groups, ask students to find and post new information on a course topic, have students discuss what should be on the next test, have peers answer questions, etc.
A wealth of tried and tested ideas on teaching with discussion forums can be found on the following pages:
- Online Discussions, Teaching with Technology, Centre for Teaching Excellence, Cornell University
- Getting Started with Online Discussion Forums by Tiffany Lieuw, Stanford Teaching Commons Teaching, Stanford University
- Discussion Boards, Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University
- Discussion Boards, Faculty Focus
- Move Over Socrates: Online Discussion is Here by Laurel Trufant, EDUCAUSE
Features of advanced forums in UMMoodle
This blog post outlines a few features of the new advanced discussion forum in UMMoodle. First, the new advanced forum provides teachers and students with a user interface that is much easier to use: quick links to six new posts in a discussion appear on the course page.
Also, in an advanced forum, clicking on a link to a discussion topic takes us to a page where we can see a complete discussion in context, and the reply button is clearly visible, making it much easier to read and respond to discussion posts.
Other features include the ability to allow students to post anonymously and to sort posts by date, creation time, or activity.
Teachers can now view a simple list of students who have posted to the forum and the number of times each student has posted or replied to a post. The best feature might be the export tool, which allows a teacher to view or print all the posts by one student, or alternatively, all posts by all students in a forum.
More information on the new advanced forum is available at the following pages:
If you have questions, or need help please contact Chris FULTON at firstname.lastname@example.org or ext. 4574.
If you try this or have already used advanced forums in your courses, please let colleagues know how it was received by your students by writing a comment below.