The chat activity module allows instructors to communicate with students or to hold open discussions within the class.

Students can use the activity in order to talk to their peers outside of class to collaborate, or to clarify events, assignments, or lecture topics. This enables greater understanding of course material. Additionally, through the reporting features of Moodle, the instructor can review their discussions, which allows for clarification of any mistakes that occurred, or any questions that were posed but not answered.

Creating a new chat

Adding a chat activity

Instructors can add Chat activities where the students will be able to talk in real time with their peers or instructor. This function is useful for discussions outside of class or to answer the students' questions.

  1. Select Turn editing on.
  2. Click on the Add an activity pull-down list.
    activity window
  3. Choose the Chat tool.
  4. If needed, click on Expand All in the top right corner
  5. Expand All Button

  6. Under the General section, type the Name of this chat room (required) into the text box.
  7. Type the Introduction text (required) into the text box.

    • Next chat time schedules a time for the students to chat.
      Note: By default this setting displays the current date and time. This date appears in the students' "Upcoming Events" block.
    • Repeat sessions continues the schedule of chat times.
      Note: This option can be set to repeat every day or every week, which will post the event on students' calendars accordingly.
    • Save past sessions sets whether or not sessions will be saved for viewing.
    • Everyone can view past sessions allows people who are not enrolled in the course to be able to view the chat logs.
      Note: Setting this to No prohibits guest access to chat logs, but the students, teaching assistants, and instructor will still be able to view the past sessions.
    • Group mode under Common module settings can be set to configure this Chat activity as a group activity. This allows the groups that the instructor has set in the course to be able to complete the activity as a group rather than individually.
    • Group mode sets if the groups are Visible to one another. Also, click the Show advanced button in the Common module settings section to set Grouping to allow the groups within different groupings to also collaborate.
    • ID number allows for easy reference of the assignment in the gradebook.
    • Restrict access allows the instructor to set a condition on the assignment until other assignment(s) are completed: Add restrict access image
      Add restrict access menu image
      • Date: Access can be restricted from or until a certain date and time.
        Note: ALL dates must be changed when copying courses. [We recommend that you do not use the DATE option in Restrict access. Dates can be set above within the Availability.]
      • Grade: determines grade conditions which must be met in order to access the activity.
        Note: Multiple grade conditions may be set if desired. If so, the activity will only allow access when ALL grade conditions are met.
      • Group: If groups are used in the course, it is possible to restrict the activity to a certain group.
      • User Profile determines access based on fields within the student's profile, such as department or email.
      • Restriction Set allows you to set nested restrictions (of those listed above).
  8. Choose either Save and return to course or Save and display.

Participating in a Chat

Joining a chat session

The instructor can set up a chat for students, as well as join in on the sessions.

  1. Click on the name of the chat activity.
  2. Choose one of the two following options:
    • Choose Click here to enter chat now, which opens a pop up window with the chat contained within it.
      • Within this window, there is a text box at the bottom for typing messages. There is a list of users on the right hand side of the frame, which displays those who are currently in the Chat.
      • Entering text and clicking the Send button, or pressing enter/return on your keyboard, sends the message to the Chat room.
      • The messages will display above the text input box with the newest items appearing at the bottom.
    • Choose Use more accessible interface, which opens a pop up window with the Chat contained within it.
      • Within this window, there is a list of users at the top of the frame, which lists those who are currently in the Chat.
      • Under the Send message heading is a text box for typing messages.
      • By clicking Submit, the message is posted to the Chat room for others to see.
      • By clicking Refresh, the chat frame updates in order to show new messages.
        Note: New messages will not display on the screen unless you send a message or press Refresh.
      • By clicking the Show only new checkbox, the messages that are displayed when the screen is refreshed are limited to only those that have not been displayed previously.
      • The messages are displayed at the bottom of the screen, with the newest on top, underneath the Messages heading.

Customizing the chat window

Using the default Chat browser, and not the more accessible one, provides various options within the window to customize its visual options.

  1. Open a Chat window by clicking Click here to enter chat now as described above.
  2. The users panel can be expanded or retracted by clicking the divider between the message frame and the users frame (it is the light gray bar between the white and dark gray sections).
  3. The way that the messages are displayed can be changed by clicking the Themes button at the bottom of the screen. The two available options are:
  • Bubble: This option makes the text appear on your screen within speech bubbles. It also centers your text input box and gives it rounded edges.
  • Compact: This option makes the text appear on the screen within blocks. It also offsets the text input box to the left of the screen and gives it square edges.

Managing a Chat

Viewing chat sessions

By viewing Chat sessions the instructor can go back after the fact and see what was said within the Chat.

  1. Click on the existing Chat activity.
  2. Click View past chat sessions.
    Note: The option appears in the center of the screen, as well as in the Settings bar.
  3. Find the desired Chat session and click See this session.
    Note: If there has not been a chat session that contained at least two people then a message will appear stating there are no complete sessions. Click List all sessions and choose the session to be displayed by clicking See this session.

Deleting chat sessions

  1. Click on the existing Chat activity.
  2. Click View past chat sessions.
    Note: The option appears in the center of your screen, as well as in the Settings bar.
  3. Find the desired Chat session and click Delete this session.

Viewing chat reports

Chat reports will record who accesses the Chat, as well as when they did so.

  1. Click on the existing Chat activity.
  2. In the Administration block, click the Logs button.
  3. This page lists all of the actions corresponding to your Chat activity by default. The filter can be altered by changing the pull-down menus at the top. Filter options include groups, specific users, dates, and what they did, which includes viewing sessions, chatting, and viewing the report.

Managing chat permissions

The chat permissions are established by the system's administrator. The permissions are given to the various roles in order to grant them the ability to perform actions within the activity. The instructor can view these permissions with these steps:

  1. Click on the existing chat activity.
  2. In the Administration block, click the Permissions to view all possible capabilities pertaining to chat, and which roles have access to each capability. Alternatively, click the Check permissions button specifically view an a list of all enrolled individuals in the course.
  3. Click on the user's name to check and then click Show this user's permissions.
    Note: Type the user's name into the search box in order to refine the display and more easily locate the intended user.
  4. This page lists all of the various actions that are capable within the activity. The list will tell whether or not the user is capable of each action.