Overview

This guide provides more information about what a Forum activity is and how they can be created and used.


Contents


What is a Forum?


Forums are used within Learning Space for a variety of reasons; news forums can be used on a module area for information, a standard forum can be used for discussions among students or as an assessed piece of work. All forums within Learning Space can be identified by the speech bubble icon shown below:



Creating a Forum for notices and announcements


Forums can be used to send messages to all, or groups of students subscribed to a course/module.


To do this, create a Forum titled 'Notices'. Once the Forum is in place, you will need to change the settings so that only Academic staff can post. Click on the forum title on the right hand side of the icon. Next, using the click on the cog in the right hand corner and select Permissions.


Select Student from the Advanced role override dropdown.



Type 'start' into the filter box and you will be presented with the activity for 'Start new discussions'. Click on the radio button to prevent this activity and then save.




If you do not wish student to reply to notices type "reply" into the filter box and you will be presented with the activity for 'Reply to announcements', 'Reply to posts' and 'Reply to locked discussions'. Click on the radio button to prevent these activities and then save.



You have now created a 'Noticeboard' for your course/module that allows you and your colleagues to post and the students to view and receive as email.


Creating a Forum for discussion


A standard forum facilitates a discussion between participants and can be used as an assessed activity or as a noticeboard. Selecting  Forum from the Add an activity option will take you to the forum edit screen.



Here you will need to fill out some more information. You will first need to give the forum a name. The next section of the forum options is the description text field, this text is presented to all individuals using the forums. It would be a good area to put any posting requirements or house rules etc.


You will also need to decide what type of forum you wish to create, by default all forums created are “Standard forum for general use”, however there are a few additional types of forum you can choose.



Forum TypeFeatures
A single simple discussion
A forum which features one topic, discussions are short and more focused.
Each person posts one discussion
Each individual can post only one topic discussion topic within the forum. No limit on responses or replies within the forum.
Q and A forum
Students using this kind of forum have to post a topic before being able to view other topics within the same forum.
Standard forum for general use
A general purpose forum where anyone can post a discussion topic and reply to other topics within the forum.
Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format
A general purpose forum where anyone can post a discussion topic and reply to other topics within the forum, and in which discussion topics are displayed on one page with


You now now have a selection of optional settings that can be applied to the forum: 


Attachments and word count:


In this area you are able to set an attachment size in addition to number of attachments. You can also set the forums to display word counts from here.


Subscription and tracking:


Subscription TypeFeatures
Optional subscription
Students can choose whether to be subscribed.
Forced subscription
Will subscribe all users to the forum with no option to unsubscribe.
Auto subscription
Subscribes users initially but users can choose to unsubscribe at any time. Choose this option if you would like to give users the option to not receive notification emails.
Subscription disabled
Means subscriptions aren't used.


The next option in the forum settings is the “Read tracking for this forum”, by default this is set to optional. When read tracking is enabled individual users can track unread messages in forum discussions.


The Post threshold for blocking, Grade, Ratings, Common Module Settings and Restrict access options aren’t commonly used in Learning Space. If you would like some more information about these please get in touch with a member of the ET Team - etsupport@falmouth.ac.uk


If you are interested in using the group mode functions within forums please see the section titled: "Sending forum posts to specific groups of students"


To save all settings within the Forum options, scroll to the bottom of the page and click 'Save'.


You have now successfully created a Forum. At this stage the forum is blank, if you’d like to start an initial discussion topic for the forum you will first need to click on the relevant forum link on the page.


Starting a new discussion within a Forum


Enter the Forum by clicking on the title. You will then presented with a screen which looks similar to the following. From this window you are able to see an overview of the Forum


From this window you are able to see an overview of the Forum. You can also see a description of the Forum. 


To add a new topic to the discussion click the button titled “Add a new discussion topic”.


When creating a new discussion topic you are required to enter a subject title and message text. The descriptive text associated with the original forum is also displayed at the top of the page. The message box, where text is required, functions in the same way as other word processing software eg. you are also able to use formatting and bullet points within the text.


Once you have created a discussion topic click the Post to Forum button at the bottom of the page. With any type of post using forums you will be presented with the following notification:



Within the first 30 minutes of posting you will be able to edit and amend your content. You are then taken back to the main forum area.



The new discussion topic has now been added. Forums by their nature display chronologically, the most recent topic will always be displayed at the top. You have now posted a discussion topic to the Forum. 



Adding an attachment to a Forum post


When leaving a comment or starting a thread within a forum you are presented with the following view.



Within this view you are able to add text to a discussion. You are also able to add an attachment to a discussion topic. To do this drag and drop a file into the attachment area below the text box. Please note that there will be an attachment limit listed on this page, this will differ from forum to forum.


If you are happy with your attachment selection click post to forum.


You are then taken back to the forum area, where the post with attachment can be seen in the thread.



You have now successfully posted to the forum area with an attachment.


Inserting an image into a Forum post


When leaving a comment or starting a thread within a forum you are presented with the following view.



Within this view you are able to add text to a discussion. You are also able to add images to a discussion topic. To do this drag and drop the image file into the message text box.


Your chosen image will now be inserted into the message area. Clicking post to forum will create your post. 


You are then taken back to the forum area, clicking your post you should see the image in the thread.



You have now successfully posted an image to the forum area.



Sending Forum posts to specific groups of students


Within Learning Space you are able to create forums which are only available to certain groups within a module or course. To do this you will first need to create the relevant groups you would like in your module area. For more information on creating groups please see the Creating Groups guide. 


Next, ensure you have editing enabled and click 'Edit Settings' on the right of the forum as shown below:


Scroll down to Common Activity Settings and choose 'Separate groups' or 'Visible groups' from the drop down box next to 'Group Mode' and click 'Save and display'.


Group ModeFeatures
Separate groupsAllows only students within certain groups to see certain discussion threads. For example Group A would only be able to see discussion topic for Group A, they would not be able to view Group B’s discussion topic. This also applies for other students enrolled on the page, they could see the forum link, but when clicked would be unable to view the threads unless assigned to a group.
Visible groupsAllows students within certain groups to view all other groups discussions, however students could only post within their relevant groups discussion thread. For example Group A could see Group B’s discussion thread, but would be unable to contribute. They could only contribute to Group A’s discussion thread. Other students enrolled on the page could view the forum threads for the other groups but would be unable to post unless assigned to a group.
No groupsAllows anyone enrolled on your page to interact and post within the forum.


You will now be able to view a box called 'Separate groups' or 'Visible groups'. Choose 'Separate Groups' in order to prevent all students seeing (and getting notifications from) threads intended for other groups.


To start a discussion with a single group simply click 'Add a new discussion', enter your message and any attachments, and then above the 'Post to forum' button there is a group dropdown box that allows you to select the group you want the discussion to be seen by.



A group forum has now successfully been created.



Adjusting email notifications from forums


If you are receiving too many notifications from Learning Space, you can adjust your settings to receive a daily snapshot from the forums you're subscribed to. NOTE: This change effects ALL of the forums you are subscribed to.



Firstly, select your profile icon in the top right and click 'Profile'.


Finally select either 'Complete...' or 'Subjects...' and click 'Save Changes'.




Video guide: creating a noticeboard using the forum activity



Further Support

For any further guidance please contact the Educational Technology team etsupport@falmouth.ac.uk.


Please report any issues with this guide to etsupport@falmouth.ac.uk.