Forum Types, Suggested Uses and Teaching Tips

Standard Forum for General Use (The Default Setting)
Anyone can start new discussion topics, or respond to an existing one. Use this if you'd like multiple discussion topics within a forum- or if you want each student to have their own "thread".
Example: Julia asks the students to reflect on learning how to boil water. Students can post their reflection by starting a new discussion topic, or responding to another's post. If they want post something along a different train of thought, they can create additional discussion topics.
Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format
Same as above, except on the first page of the forum you will see the full text of the first post in each thread.
Example: Going back to Julia's recipe posting forum, she could use this format so the students could see the full text of everyone's recipes at a glance without having to click into each discussion topic.
A single simple discussion
Each person posts by responding to the post just prior to theirs. This shows the whole forum on one screen- so is good if you don't want to have to click in and out of different discussion topics.
Example: Julia wants to find out what cooking equipment the students own. Julia posts the first question and students respond to her. She can see all responses in one screen.
Each person posts one discussion
Each person starts their own discussion topic, and then others can respond to it. This is similar to the "Standard Forum" above, but each person is limited to starting one topic.
Example: Julie wants each student to start their own discussion topic and use it to post a recipe they've written. Then students will try a peer's recipe and leave feedback by replying to the recipe author's topic or thread. Each student has a topic that's "theirs".
Q and A forum
The instructor begins this forum by posting a question. The students reply back and answer the question, but they cannot see anyone else's response until AFTER they have posted themselves. 
Example: Julia wants to make sure the students have understood the reading. She posts the question "How long does it take to boil a pot of water?". Student post their responses without seeing what anyone else has answered. After they post, they can see if they were in agreement with their classmates or not.

Teaching Tips

  • Groups: For larger classes, we can break students up into groups and give each group their own forum in Moodle. Get in touch and we can set it up for you.
  • Pinning Discussions: Have a critical post that students should see each time they view a forum?  You can "pin" that post to the top of the list of discussions.  Look for the “Pinned” checkbox when you are adding a new discussion topic.

Suggested Strategies

Faculty at Hampshire have had success with the following strategies:

  • Responses Before Class: Have students respond to readings or other material BEFORE it gets discussed in class, so you can see which questions need to be addressed, which don't, and what the general trend of interest is. Most instructors required the students to complete their posts a couple days before the class, to give them a chance to review and prepare.
  • Responses After Class: Use forums as a follow-up to in-class discussion, for example to let students give an opinion that they weren't able to in class, or let people post thoughts that came to them afterwards.
  • Peer Review: Set up a forum for students to share their work for peer review. Remember that they can attach files, and insert media into posts.
  • Have TA's write the first posts to "break the ice"
  • Encourage participation with Auto-Subscribe: With the auto-subscribe option, all students will get emails of posts until they opt out.
  • Require Forum Participation: State specific expectations for the students when requiring them to post. There often has to be a perceived value to participation in order for the students to engage.
  • Maintain a teaching presence: Someone (either you or your TA) should respond to posts and help further the discussion. The students will feel more engaged with the activity if they feel an instructor is virtually present.

Forum as Journal

  • In some cases, it may be desirable to have a student writing a series of posts that only they and the teacher can see, in the form of a journal.  A forum can be used to accomplish this, with separate groups turned on, and each student placed alone in a group.  Let us know if you're interested in setting this up!
Last modified: Wednesday, January 16, 2019, 4:18 PM