NOTICE: Beginning Summer 2019, all courses will be offered exclusively on Canvas. Only Moodle archives will be available after Spring 2019. 


The forum module is an activity where students and teachers can exchange ideas by posting interactive messages. Forum posts can be assessed by the instructor or other students through a rating system. A forum can contribute significantly to successful communication and community building in an online environment.

forum field descriptions

Forum Type

a)    A Single simple discussion - A forum that displays only one single thread (topic). This is helpful if you plan to have students focus on a single topic that they can all view and reply to each other in.

b)    Standard forum for general use - An open forum where anyone can start a new topic at any time; this is the best general-purpose forum.

c)    Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format - A Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format is an open forum where anyone can start a new discussion at any time, and in which discussion topics are displayed on one page with "Discuss this topic" links. 

d)    Q and A Forum - Instead of initiating discussions the instructor poses a question in the initial post of a discussion. Students may reply with an answer, but they will not see the replies of other Students to the question, until they have, themselves, replied to it.

e)    Each person posts one discussion - Each person can post exactly one new discussion topic (everyone can reply to them though); this is useful when you want each student to start a discussion about, say, their reflections on the week's topic, and everyone else responds to these.

Subscription mode

When a user is subscribed to a forum they will receive notification (via popup and/or email, depending on the user’s messaging settings preferences) of each new posting. By default, posts are recorded about 30 minutes after the post was first written. Depending upon the email settings of each forum member, they may be sent an email immediately after the 30 minute edit window is closed, or in a batch at a time fixed by the site administrator (see below).

People can usually choose whether or not they want to be subscribed to each forum. However, the instructor can choose to force subscription on a particular forum then all course users will be subscribed automatically, even those that enroll at a later time.

There are 4 subscription mode options:

  • 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.

The subscription mode and subscribe or unsubscribe links appear in the Settings menu under Forum administration when viewing the forum. Instructors can quickly change the mode via the 'Subscription mode' options and view the current subscribers via the 'Show/edit current subscribers' link.


  • Forcing everyone to subscribe is especially useful in the news forum and in forums towards the beginning of the course (before everyone has worked out that they can subscribe to these emails themselves).
  • Changing the setting from "Yes, initially" to "No" will not unsubscribe existing users, it will only affect those who enroll in the course in the future. Similarly changing "Yes, initially" will not subscribe existing course users but only those enrolling later.
  • There is also a "Subscriptions not allowed" setting which prevents Students from subscribing to a Forum. Instructors may choose to subscribe to a forum if they wish.

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Why should I use Forums?

You can use a forum for a variety of purposes such as:

  • A place for students to discuss an upcoming project.
  • To hold complex discussions with students.
  • To have students assess each other's submissions.

The benefit of providing the forum as opposed to other activities is that you are able to give students an environment to discuss ideas without the restrictions that other, more focused activities place on students.

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How to Create a Forum and Add Discussion Topics

The forum module is an activity where students and instructors can exchange ideas by posting comments.

Follow the instructions below to create a forum:

  1. Log in to your course.
  2. Click on the Gear menu on top right of your course.
  3. Click Turn editing on, located in the dropdown menu.
  4. Find the section where the forum will be displayed.
  5. Click Add an activity or resource.
  6. Scroll down on the Add an activity or resource window.
  7. Click the button next to the forum activity.
  8. Click Add.
  9. Add a Forum name and Forum introduction.
  10. Click on the question mark next to the Forum type to read about different forum options.
    A single simple discussion. (one discussion topic that students reply to) 
    Standard forum for general use. (used to post general information by all class participants)
    Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format.
    Q and A forum. (Post replies can be view after the student has replied to your initial post)
    Each person posts one discussion.

NOTE: Forums have a grading option. A maximum score for the forum and date range options will need to be selected.

  1. Click Save and return to course.

Follow the instructions below to add a new discussion topic / question (for Q and A forums):

NOTE: Only Q and A forums require you (the instructor) to create the first discussion topic. Single simple discussion forums will use the description of your forum as the discussion topic.

  1. Log in to your course.
  2. Click on the forum name after it has been created.
  3. Click Add a new discussion topic (or Add a new question for Q and A forums) to post the question that students will reply to.

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Discussion Locking

Instructors can now lock a forum so that students cannot make a new post, reply to a post, or start a new discussion topic.  Students can only read existing posts.  The option is available in forum Editing settings.

discussion locking option

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Grading Forums

Forums are an activity available through Moodle that can be graded. The grading system used for Forums is based on Ratings. Grading forums is useful when you want to grade for participation points, grade an introduction post, or award points for clarity of thought.

NOTE: It is recommended that you choose your Ratings setting before students begin posting in the forum.

Follow the instructions below to activate the Ratings setting:

  1. Log in to your course.
  2. Click on the Gear menu on top right of your course.
  3. Click Turn editing on, located in dropdown menu.
  4. Find the forum you would like to grade.
  5. Click Edit, located directly across the assignment.
  6. Click Edit Settings.
  7. In the upper right-hand corner, click Expand All.
  8. Scroll down to the Ratings section. (Click on the question mark next to Aggregate type to read about different forum rating options.)
  9. Click Aggregate type.
  10. Select the Aggregate type that best fits your needs.
  • Average of ratings – the mean of all ratings
  • Count of ratings – the number of rated items becomes the final grade
  • Maximum – the highest rating becomes the final grade
  • Minimum – the smallest rating becomes the final grade
  • Sum – All ratings are added together

NOTE: Count of ratings and Sum of rating types cannot exceed the maximum grade for the activity.

  1. Click the Scale drop-down menu.
  2. Select the scale value that best fits your needs.

NOTE: Only whole numbers can be used in the Scale

NOTE: The Restrict ratings to items with dates in this range option can be used to restrict postings to selected dates and times.

  1. Click the Save and return to course button to complete the process.

Follow the instructions below to rate forum posts:

  1. Log in to your course.
  2. Find the forum you would like to grade
  3. Find the post you would like to rate
  4. Click on the small drop-down menu at the bottom-right of the post to rate

NOTE: The rating value will automatically appear in the gradebook according the Aggregate type chosen.

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