Forums in Moodle 101: Benefits of Forum, Unique Use Cases & More

Forums in Moodle 101: Benefits of Forum, Unique Use Cases & More
August 30, 2019 Adarsh Singh

Moodle, as an LMS, is a complete solution in itself.

It is so, because of its modular structure, that goes in sync with the requirements of online learning. If that wasn’t enough, Moodle also has various ‘activities’ that only add more value to a student’s e-learning experience. 

One such activity is the ‘Forum’ activity in Moodle. Over time, it has become one of the most powerful tools available as a part of any Moodle site. So much, that we recently hosted a webinar on the same. 

Like reading instead? Or maybe you might watch the video later? We’ve covered everything for you in the blog post below. 


What is a Forum?

A Forum is best described as a place on the internet within a site in which people can discuss topics with other people.

Talking in a Moodle context, a forum is best used for creating an environment that promotes student engagement amongst themselves, as well as with teachers. You can very well consider ‘forum’ activity to be a powerful communication tool in Moodle. 


Forums as A Powerful Communication Tool in Moodle

There are multiple benefits of Forum activity that make it deserve such a title. Further, the fact that it is an asynchronous mode of communication only adds more strength to the claim. 

The asynchronous mode only means your students can connect with each other as well as with teachers depending on their individual availability. Two people who wish to connect with each other don’t need to be online at the same time.

Talking about how effective forums are, you can very well consider the forum activity to be an online message board, where teachers & students are open to having discussions with each other.


Different Types of Forums in Moodle

Forums are most often used to spark discussions where each and every student can take part. Talking about different types of Forums in Moodle, Moodle lets you choose between 5 types of forums.    


#1 A Single Simple Discussion

This type of forum differs from the usual forum as this forum as only one thread, as compared to multiple discussion topics in the typical forum. 

Example: Maria wants to assess the understanding of her students, about what was taught to them. She can start a simple discussion thread wherein everyone can share their summary of the topic. Since this is a single simple discussion, multiple threads can’t be created. 


#2 Each person posts one discussion

Each person can create their own discussion topic, and then others can respond to it. 

Example: Maria wants each student to share their understanding of a certain topic in a separate thread, and wants other students to share their feedback. As you can see, Each student has a topic that’s “theirs”.


#3 Q and A forum

In this type of forum, the instructor begins by posting a question. The students are then expected to reply to the question. The unique part about this arrangement is that the students can only see answers posted by other students, once they have posted their answer. 

Example: Maria wants to make sure her students have been able to understand the concepts that were taught to them. So she posts one common question for everyone and waits for her students to post their responses. The significant advantage of this method is that students can’t see responses of other students unless they’ve shared their own. After they post, they can see if they were in agreement with their classmates or not.


#4 Standard forum for general use

This forum is one of the most used forum types in Moodle. WIth this forum type, anyone can start new discussion topics, or respond to an existing one.

Example: Maria wants the students to share their viewpoints on the topic they just read, and wants them to take the positives from other students and think critically. Students can post their reflection by starting a new discussion topic, or responding to another’s post. If they want to post something along a different train of thought, they can create additional discussion topics.


#5 Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format 

Similar to the one we discussed above, the only difference is in how the forum is displayed. With this forum type, you can see the full text of the first post in each forum. 

Example: Students can get a glance at everyone’s answers without having to click into each discussion topic. 

Now that we’ve discussed the different types of Forums you can create, you might be wondering if there are other ways in which you can use the Forums activity.

Even though there’s no shortage of variations, we were surprised to come across a very unique use-case of Forums in Moodle. 


Forum as a Primary Assessment Tool

Yes, you read it right!

Surprised that you are, we had similar first reactions when we got to know of this use case. All this happened when we were working on a grading solution for Moodle, in the form of Edwiser RapidGrader.

During the development phase, we got in touch with a particular patron who told us how they use forums activity as the main tool for assessing and evaluating the learning of their students.

How? They would simply use forums for posting questions for his students, and their students would then respond to their question by answering in the q n a type forum. 

Even though this was an innovative approach and a new way of doing something, we were apprehensive of it especially because it isn’t the most conventional way of assessing performances. Further, this method didn’t guarantee that students would have actually solved the problem themselves, and not just posted the final answer.

When we looked further into the possibilities, we could pinpoint a few ways in which you can use the forum activity to train and engage your students better. 


Recommended Ways of Using Forum Activity in Moodle

Listed below are just 10 ways in which you can use the Forum activity in Moodle. Meanwhile, the possibilities – endless.

  • A place where students can interact and get to know each other.
  • A platform where a teacher can have multiple group forums, with each group having only one student. This way, a teacher can have one-on-one discussions with each student. 
  • For discussing course content as well as reference material
  • For an online meeting/discussion for teachers only (hidden forum)
  • A student-only forum where students can help each other by solving their doubts
  • As a course announcements medium by using a news forum with forced subscription.
  • QnA’s could be used to check the knowledge of the user.
  • Limited time submissions wherein teachers can allow students to submit their responses within a fixed time which would be only visible after the deadline.
  • Create critical thinking based learning process.
  • Improve engagement between teachers and students etc

Summing Up

With time, student engagement has become an important aspect of online learning. So much that admins & teachers are actively taking steps to minimize the number of dropouts, and to make sure that students are always engaged.

Forum in Moodle is just one of the popular ways admins & teachers have adopted to achieve the above. As you can see, Forum holds tremendous potential to be used as a comprehensive communication tool by students & teachers alike. 

This only helps students & teachers to interact more easily with each other, thereby increasing trust in the minds of the learners. Further, it also opens up the doors of critical thinking for teachers and students alike. 

What do you feel about Forum activities in Moodle? Or are there any other ways you feel you can use to achieve student engagement on Moodle? Share with us in the comments section below! 

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