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Moodle is an online tool that allows educators to interact with students outside the classroom and manage a course from anywhere. In Moodle Essential Training for Teachers, Chris Mattia shows how this program works for teachers on three levels: disseminating information, creating a forum where ideas are exchanged, and assessing the progress of students. Chris shows how to build course materials with Moodle's HTML editor, post assignments, and save time by using Moodle's grade book to evaluate tests automatically and organize scores. Exercise files accompany the course.
One of the activity types that you have available to you inside of Moodle is called a forum. Forums are basically threaded discussion boards where users can come in and can post a comment, a file or some note that other users can go in and respond to that question or item. The forum will keep track of who sends the response and who has replied to which message. There are a lot of creative uses for using forums inside of Moodle. One of the ways you can use a forum is to assign a student as an official note taker for each week of the semester. Have them post their notes up to the discussion board for that week and then the other students can come in, review their notes and add additional comments to them and that's what we are going to set up in this exercise.
So if we scroll down to the first week in the semester, click on the dropdown menu for Add an activity and we'll select Forum. We'll give the forum name, Week 1 Notes. We then have to set the Forum Type and there is a variety of different forum types that we can choose. A standard forum, which is the default setting, allows users to create an initial question or initial thread and allows other users to respond to that question.
The options we are going to choose is 'A single simple discussion,' meaning there is only going to be one discussion thread for this forum. Other options here are discussion post one discussion, meaning that meaning that every user in the class is able to go in, post an initial question and then they are able to respond to each other's questions and there is also a question and answer forum where you can post a question and then have students respond to that question. We are going to go ahead and set up a single simple discussion. For the introduction, we'll simply say, Please post your note for today's class so that other students can add to those notes. Go ahead and scroll down in the list.
The first option that we have for configuring this discussion forum is whether or not we want to force everyone to be subscribed to the forum. The default is set to No, but we want to set this to Yes. What this is going to do is it's going to force every single student in our class to automatically be enrolled inside of this form so that they can see the discussion board, so they can see all of postings and interact with the information. If you were to set this to Yes initially, every student will be subscribed to the forum initially but then they would have the option to opt out of the forum at a later time. You could also choose Subscriptions are not allowed for this forum, but we want this Yes and forever.
The next option, Read tracking for this forum, is set to optional and it will allow students to choose whether or not they want to track messages that are read or unread inside of the forum. Leaving this to Optional is a good way to allow the students to feel that they are able to customize their user experience inside of your Moodle course. You can then set the Maximum attachment size. This is going to be dependent on your particular server that you are working with. If you are using one of the test servers that we set up in an earlier exercise and you are using a Mac, your Maximum attachment size will be maxed out at 32 megabytes. If you are using a Windows test server that we set up, then your maximum will be set to 16. If you're using your own server, it will be some other value. We'll go ahead and set this to 10 megabytes.
For Grade, we are not going to grade this forum. So we are going to leave grading set to No ratings. So we scroll down on the list, the next block of options are for Post threshold for blocking. The first one, Time period for blocking. By default, it's set to Don't block, meaning students can always come in, post and interact with the information inside of the discussion forum. If we set this say to 1 day, then whatever the post threshold is, meaning that a student can come in and they can post 5 times into the discussion board.
After their fifth post, they would be blocked from making any additional post for at least one day. If we were to set the Post threshold for warning to say 3, then after the student had posted three items to the discussion board in succession, they would start getting warnings to let them know that they're about to be blocked from making any additional posts, after one day, these values would reset. We don't want to have anything set here, so we'll set these back to 0, and set Time period for blocking to Don't block. In the Common module settings, we are not going to have groups associated with. So we'll go ahead and select No groups. We want this discussion forum to be visible all the time, so we'll have it set to show, we don't need to add an ID number and for course grading, since we are not going to grade this, we'll go ahead and leave this activity uncategorized.
Click the Save and return to course button and if we scroll down in the list, we can see now that we have a discussion forum that's been set up for week 1 notes. Go ahead and click on that discussion forum, we can see that our main discussion forum is here with the initial post ready to go. Students could then come in and reply to this particular posting and add information. We'll go into how to do that in the next movie.
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