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In this course, author Chris Mattia helps educators create online courses that complement classroom-based instruction and foster student interaction using the free learning management system Moodle. The course details the basics of setting up a test environment, disseminating course information, creating forums, and assessing student progress. Tutorials on building course materials with Moodle's built-in HTML editor, preparing and posting various types of media, uploading assignments, and evaluating tests automatically are also included.
Of all the different activity types that Moodle has to offer, the Discussion Forum is the one that tends to get my students to really get engaged with the Course Material the most. In this chapter we are going to step through setting up a Discussion Forum that will help draw our students into our course and really get them engaged in the materials. So make sure that editing is turned on and then scroll down to the bottom of Week 1. Click the dropdown menu for at Add an activity and select Forum from that menu. For the Forum name, we'll click in there and simply type in Week 1 Discussion Forum.
For the Forum introduction, we will go over to our course syllabi which is in the Chapter 10 exercise files and scroll down until you find the Forum Discussion section. Go ahead and select the text that describes what this assignment is and then press Command+C or Ctrl+C on your keyboard to copy that description. Go ahead and click back into your browser and in the Forum introduction just press Command+V or Ctrl+V to paste that description in. Every week of the term, we are going to create a discussion forum and each forum is going to start off with having four discussion topics.
We are going to require our students to login and answer at least two of those topics. Then over the course of the week we are going to require our students to go in and respond to several of their peers. Their participation grade will be affected by their weekly participation in these discussion forums. Go ahead and scroll down in the page and let's look at some of the settings we can make for this discussion forum. The first is Subscription mode, and if we click the dropdown menu, here we can choose how we want students to be subscribed to the forum.
Whether it's Optional for them to be subscribed or whether we Forced them to be subscribed, or we don't allow subscriptions at all. By subscribing to the forum, anytime a post is made, each student would receive an email from our Moodle server. letting them know that a post has been made and it will give them the full text of the post. I like to leave this option set to Optional subscription to give the choice to the student as to how they would like to receive that information. The next option here is tracking for the forum. I like to leave tracking turned on at all times.
This way any time myself or any of my students login and they start reading through the forum. Moodle will keep track automatically of what items in the forum that they've read and which items that they haven't. It'll help them keep organized as they work through the material. The Maximum attachment size, 128 MB is probably a bit generous for this discussion forum. I like to restrict them down to a smaller amount. So, say, 10 MB and attaching nine documents is a bit much as well. So we will go ahead and set that done something more reasonable like 5.
These are purely Optional settings. So you can set whatever settings work best for you and your particular discussion forums. The next section is Posting threshold for blocking. Now this is an interesting setting. The Time period for blocking, means that if we set a particular time period, then once a student makes a posting, they may not be able to repost within so much time. That will force other students to get in and start interacting with the material, but it can tend to slow a discussion down. So I like to leave this set to Don't block.
Next, if we scroll down a little further, we can go in and we can set the Grade category. Now when we look at our course syllabi, we know that the participation in these discussion forums is going to account toward our assignment grade category. So we will go ahead and select assignments, and then the points that we assign will go directly into this grade category. If we scroll down a little bit further, we have a rating system. Now the ratings you're not able to turn on until you've already saved this assignment and gone back into it, and then you can go and reset this. But for the type of discussion that we are using, we are not going to use any ratings on these.
Finally, for the Common module settings, we are not going to set this up for Group mode, although if you wanted to, you could create a different discussion forum for each different group that you may have within your course, but in this case we want one discussion forum to be available to all of our students. Now for Visibility, I do want to set this to Hide, and here's why, because I am going to be going into the discussion and setting up a series of questions into that discussion forum. I don't want the students to be able to see those questions until I'm ready to release them. So I am going to start off in this chapter by having this setting set to Hide.
Go ahead and click the Save and display option and we are taken directly into the forum. Here we can see the text of the forum and where we can add a new discussion topic. In the next movie we will go ahead and seed our discussion with four questions to prompt the students to begin the online discussion for this week.
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