The forum is an activity where class members can exchange ideas by posting comments online. A forum can contribute significantly to successful communication and community building in an online environment. There are five different types of forums in Moodle. Your instructor will provide you with detailed instructions to assist in the successful use of the forum type.
The most common forum used is the Standard forum. In this forum type, users see the introduction text in a separate space above the discussion area. Often instructions are placed in this Forum introduction. You can also see the information such as the title of the discussion, who it was started by, the number of replies and the date of the last post.
Follow your instructor's instructions about whether you should select the “Add a new discussion topic” button or reply to threads in this type of forum.
Once you select a discussion thread, you will have four display options to choose from. Pick the best thread display option for your learning needs. These options are available by using the drop down menu in the upper center of the screen.
Display replies flat, with oldest first
The discussion will be displayed in one line and the chronological order from the oldest to the newest.
Display replies flat, with newest first
The discussion will be displayed in one line and the chronological order from the newest to the oldest. This is the same as the above, just a different sort order.
Display replies in threaded form
Only the post starting the discussion will be displayed in its full form; replies will be reduced to the headlines (including information about its author and date of release) and organized chronologically; moreover, replies will be shifted towards the right so that only replies to the same post were in the same line.
Display replies in nested form
All posts are displayed in their full forms; replies will be reduced to the headlines (including information about its author and date of release) and organized chronologically; moreover, replies will be shifted towards the right so that only replies to the same post were in the same line.
Other types of Forums
A single simple discussion
This is similar to the standard forum except there is only one thread. Users will see the text placed in the Forum introduction by the instructor as the first post of the discussion. Below the first post are the replies that have been posted.
Each person posts one discussion
The view will be basically the same as in the previous case, the only difference being the 'Add a new discussion' option. Viewing a forum page, users will see the text the instructor has written at the 'Forum introduction' space while creating the forum, and, if there are any, the discussions that have been started.
Question and Answer forum
The Q & A forum is used when the instructor has a particular question to have answered. In a Q and A forum, instructors post the question and students respond with possible answers. By default a Q and A forum requires students to post once before viewing other students' postings. After the initial posting, students can view and respond to others' postings. This feature allows equal initial posting opportunity among all students, thus encouraging original and independent thinking.
Writing a powerful discussion forum post
www.eLearners provides the following outline and guidance for developing and posting top quality discussion posts:
- Recognize the purpose of the discussions – in the classroom, learners and instructors hold discussions about the subject matter. Discussion postings duplicate this interaction when you are online (and online discussion provides a permanent record of your comments).
- Read the discussion posting directions carefully – make sure you know what you are supposed to write about and ensure you read all related discussion board questions before you start the reading and other assignments. This will help you keep focus on the key topics when you are studying.
- Prepare yourself – before you write a single word, make sure you have prepared yourself by completing the required reading and coursework.
- Think about the point(s) you want to make – Ensure you clearly articulate your point. Often, an “A+” post will make the connection between the course theories and ideas and real life.
- Gather your references – make sure you cite your references in your posting. Even if it is a discussion posting, not giving others credit for their work is plagiarism, so cite!
- Write out your responses before posting – it is a good practice to carefully construct your response in a word processing program prior to posting.
- Follow the rules of discussion posting – most courses have rules, guidelines and grading criteria (often in the form of a participation rubric) for discussion interaction. Make sure you read these before your first post and refer back to them periodically through the duration of the course.
- Give meaning and value to your posts – as Albert Einstein said, “Strive not to be a success, but to be of value.” Ensure your posts are worth reading. Avoid writing, “I agree” or Good thought” or any short response to another posting. Put in details. Go deep into why you think a post is good or explain why you agree. Remember, that it is okay to disagree with a classmate’s posting. However, be polite if you disagree and make sure you explain why.
- Post on time – posting late is like coming up to a professor after class to contribute your ideas. (Hint: If you are asked to respond to the instructors question(s) and then respond to several other learners, do so early. You will be noticed if you start a good discussion.)
- Express some of your “self” in the posting – link new information, concepts and ideas with your prior knowledge and experience. This not only aids in your learning but also projects an important sense of self into the online discussion.
(How to Write an A+ Discussion Posting. (n.d.). In How to Be a Successful Online Student. Retrieved from http://www.elearners.com/guide/how-to-be-a-successful-online-student.pdf)