The Forum activity allows instructors to set up an area for organized course-related discussions. Forum discussions allow participants to post and reply when it is convenient for them and allows for multiple discussions. Students can create posts as well as respond to posts of others. The instructor acts as a moderator for discussions, and can remove any content that is not deemed constructive or appropriate for the discussion.

Getting Started

Adding/editing a forum

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Instructors can create multiple forums for discussions that, while all still pertaining to the course, explore different aspects of course material.

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Forum emails...

Forums subscriptions will send an email for each post. The Instructor can set the forum to allow students to choose if they want emails or force the email subscription.

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Video within a forum...

Unfortunately, you are unable to embed a video into the forum, but you can link a video. Just, copy and paste the URL of the video into the forum post for the users to view.

  1. Click on the Add an activity or resource link.
  2. Choose the Forum tool.
    screen image of activity pull-down list
  3. Click on the expand all link to view all setting boxes
  4. expand

  5. Under the General section, type the Forum name (required) of the assignment into the text box.
  6. Choose the Forum type. There are five different types:
    1. Standard forum for general use: Displays a link to each discussion (by most recently posted/edited), and includes info about the creator, the number of replies, and the time of the last post.
    2. Single simple discussion: Students cannot post new discussions—only reply to the message that has been defined in the “Forum introduction” field.
    3. Each person posts one discussion: Similar to “Standard forum for general use”, with the exception being that students can only create one discussion each.
    4. Q&A forum (read more): The student post an initial question before seeing the other student’s posts. After the student has created their post, then they can see the other student’s posts and reply to those.
      NOTE: The instructor must create the first post "Add a new question". The students will reply to the instructor's post. After 30 min, the students will be able to view the other students' posts.
    5. Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format: All discussions are displayed (most recent at top) on the page.
      NOTE: This is the forum type most used for general discussion needs.
  7. Type the Forum introduction (required) into the text box.
  8. Options
    • Subscription mode sets how subscriptions are enabled, and if they can be turned off by the student.
      Note: If Forum subscription is enabled, participants in the Forum will receive an email for every new post. [Subscription (email) only works with the Standard forum for general use option]
    • Read tracking for this forum allows students to see which posts they have read and not read.
    • Maximum attachment size of each file to upload.
    • Maximum number of attachments students can upload.
    • Time period for blocking defines how long a student is prevented from posting.
    • Post threshold for blocking defines the number of posts until the student is blocked from posting.
    • Post threshold for warning displays a warning that informs the student that they are approaching the limit after a number of posts
  9. Under the Ratings section, choose the Aggregate type of rating.
  10. Note: Only the instructor can submit ratings for Forum posts. These ratings are reflected in the Guidebook.
    Note: If the No ratings option is chosen, the Forum activity will be ungraded and thus will not appear in the Guidebook.
    • Scale determines what range of values that can be assigned when rating.
    • Restrict ratings to items with dates in this range enables ratings only between the specified dates.
    • Group mode (under the Common module section) can submit their files into one area. After the group is created, you can choose the name of the group from the list.
    • Visible determines if the Forum can be seen by students.
    • ID number is used for assigning a custom number to the assignment for easy reference when grading.
    • Restrict access allows the instructor to set a condition on the assignment until other assignment(s) are completed:
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      • 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).
  11. Choose either Save and return to course or Save and display.

Q&A Tips

If you choose the Forum type: Q&A (Questions & Answer), then there are some additional tasks required to have a successful forum.

  1. The instructor must add the first question so the students can reply. It will take 30 min after the instructor post before the student would be able to see it.
  2. Groups: If the instructor is using groups in the Q&A forum, then the instructor must post the first question for each group. At the bottom of the question post there will be a group pull-down list. In this example there would be 4 question posts for each of the 4 groups. To learn more about groups.
    screen image of groups

Forum posting

  1. Click on the Forum activity.
  2. Click on the Add a new discussion button.
  3. Type the Subject (required) and the Message (required) of the post.
    • Subscription sends the topic author emails of posts (if enabled).
    • Attachment is for adding files to the post.
  4. Click Post to forum.

Viewing a forum

  1. Click on the Forum activity.
  2. Shown are all the posts by the students/instructor.
    Note: The Forum will be displayed according to what Forum type was selected when creating the Forum.
    Note: This screen displays the name of the discussion, who it was started by, how many replies the post has, and the time of the most recent post.
  3. Clicking on the name of a discussion or the replies number will show a post with all its replies.
    Note: The layout of the discussion can be changed via the pull-down menu right above the original post. The pull-down menu to the right of this is used to move the discussion to another Forum, if necessary.
    screen image of forum layout options


Announcement forum

The Announcement forum is a special forum for issuing general announcements and course news to students. This forum is automatically created for each course. By default, it is placed in the top of the center section and only instructors and administrators may add posts or reply to posts. The default settings force every enrolled participant to be subscribed to the Announcement forum, meaning each participant subscribed will receive email copies of forum posts.

Students cannot reply to instructor posts in the Announcement forum; posts are purely informative news/announcements, not collaborative. If you want to create a collaborative forum where students and instructor(s) can interact, see Adding/editing a forum.

Announcement forum posts must include a subject and a message (body of the announcement). When adding a new topic (i.e., a new announcement), you'll also have the option of adding an attachment and the option to Send forum post notifications with no editing-time delay. Checking this box results in an email being sent immediately to everyone subscribed to the forum, rather than after the post editing time limit (30 minutes).

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News Forum Email and Course Availability

NOTE: Students WILL receive email copies of Announcement forum posts even when the course is NOT available to students. If your Announcement forum post refers to an element of your PolyLearn course, make sure the course IS available to students.

Add an Announcement

  1. Click on the Announcement link.
  2. Click on the Add a new topic button.
  3. Type a Subject name (required).
  4. Type the Message (required).
  5. Add an attachment if any.
    - Pinned discussions will appear at the top of a forum.
    - Send forum post notifications with no editing-time delay (edit delay is 30 min).
    screen image of the new topic HTML editor
  6. Set Display period.
    NOTE: The Display period will post the Announcement at a future date and time. This will also email the students at that date and time.
    screen image of the Display period in the Announcement tool
  7. Click Post to forum.

Additionally, the Latest News block displays a specific number of recent discussions (i.e., announcements) from the News forum and appears by default on the main course page as well.

Latest News

Edit an Announcement

  1. One the right of the Announcement, click on the Edit link.
  2. Choose the Edit link.
  3. Click Post to forum.

Delete an Announcement

A course should only have one Announcements forum. Additional Announcements may be copied from old course shells. You will need to delete any extra Announcement forums from your course shell.

  1. One the right of the Announcement, click on the Edit link.
  2. Choose the Delete link.
  3. Click on the Yes button within the Confirm window.

Additional Features

Forum permissions

The Forum 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 Forum activity.
  2. In the navigation block, click the Permissions to view all possible capabilities pertaining to Forum, 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 users 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.


Forum subscriptions

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Forum emails...

Forums subscriptions will send an email for each post. The Instructor can set the forum to allow students to choose if they want emails or force the email subscription.
NOTE: Only Standard forum for general use: Optional or Forced subscriptions works. This bug is being addressed.

When a student is subscribed to a forum within Moodle, they will receive email copies of all the posts that occur in the forum. The instructor can choose whether or not the student will have the choice for subscribing. If the instructor doesn't want the student to be able to be unsubscribed from the forum, they can leave the option at its default choice. If they wish to change this option:

  1. Click the Forum activity.
  2. Click the Edit settings link from the activity menu.
  3. Within the General section, click the Subscription mode pull down and choose the desired option.
    • Optional subscription - Participants can choose whether to be subscribed
    • Forced subscription - Everyone is subscribed and cannot unsubscribe
    • Auto subscription - Everyone is subscribed initially but can choose to unsubscribe at any time
    • Subscription disabled - Subscriptions are not allowed
  4. Click either Save and return to course or Save and display.

Blocking posts without preventing viewing

    After the forum activity is completed, you can choose to prevent students from posting additional post, but still allow the students to view.

  1. Click the Edit (gear) button and then the Edit settings link on the right of the forum.
  2. In the Update view, click the Assign roles link in the Activity menu.


  3. Type Forum in the Filter text box. This will remove all the other permissions not relating to the forum tool.

    Forum filter box

  4. Scroll down to the Start new discussion capability, click on the + "Prohibited" icon on the right.
    Forum Start New Discussion
  5. From the pull down list, choose Student and click on the Prohibit button.

    Forum Prohibit


Advanced forum search

  1. Click on the Forum activity.
  2. Click on the Search forums button (top right corner) without typing anything into the text box.
  3. screen image of an bringing up advanced search

  4. Fill out as many of the search options as desired. Click Search forums.
  5. Note: The advanced search feature will search through ALL of the Forums on the course website, not simply the selected Forum.
  6. Any discussions/posts that satisfy the search criteria appear in the results.