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Best Practices: Forums

Best Practice Scenarios

These scenarios show ways that the Forum activity can be used in GauchoSpace. For each scenario start by Creating a Basic Forum and refer to the Forum Reference Guide.  

Scenario 1: Online, private journal:

Create private forums for you and each of your students. This allows students to create private diaries or journals that only you can read and/or grade. To do this you will need to put each of your students into their own grouping (Tip: name the grouping by the student’s name), and then in the common module setting select the grouping (i.e., student’s name) you would like to assign this forum to.

  1. First, create a group for each student by following the instructions in the Creating a Group and Groupings help page.
  2. Next, create a forum for each student:
    • Log in to GauchoSpace and enter your course site.
    • Click Turn editing on.
    • Select the week/section block in which you would like the forum, click Add an activity or resource, and select Forum.
    • Provide a name for your Forum.
    • Select the forum type from the drop down menu.
    • Go to Restrict Access and Add restriction...

    • Click to add restriction by Group.

    • Select the group you want to allow access to the forum.

    • Click Save and return to course at the bottom of the page. You should now see the private forum in your page.

Note: You can also restrict access using other profile information, such as ID number.

Scenario 2: Class-wide reflection

Use the Q&A forum to enable students to independently contemplate a question, and post to the forum without seeing other student responses. To begin, the instructor/TA will post a question and then the students will post their answers. Students will not see their classmates' answers until they post their own. After posting, students are able to view and interact with the rest of the classes’ responses.

  1. Log in to GauchoSpace and enter your course site.
  2. Click Turn editing on.
  3. Select the week/section block in which you would like the forum, click Add an activity or resource, and select Forum.
  4. Provide a name for your Forum.
  5. Select the Q&A forum from the forum type drop down menu.
  6. Click Save and return to course at the bottom of the page.
  7. You can now enter your forum and add a question.
  8. Students will not be able to see responses to the question until they post their own response.

Scenario 3: Student debate/discussion

Create a standard forum for general use where students can discuss a topic they are researching and talking about in class.

  1. Log in to GauchoSpace and enter your course site.
  2. Click Turn editing on.
  3. Select the week/section block in which you would like the forum, click Add an activity or resource, and select Forum.
  4. Provide a name for your Forum.
  5. Select the standard forum for general use from the forum type drop down menu.
  6. Click Save and return to course at the bottom of the page.

All students will be able to access and respond to this forum unless you restrict access (see Scenario 1 above).

Scenario 4: Create an online space for an outside expert to participate in class discussions

Create a standard forum for general use where students can ask questions and interact with an outside expert. You can add your expert/guest as a course visitor whether they are have a UCSB netID or not. Then follow the steps in Scenario 3. 

Scenario 5: Teacher/TA only forum

Create an online space where you and your co-teachers/teaching assistants can communicate about the course privately and without cluttering your inbox. To do this you will need to create a grouping made up of only the instructors and TAs. Then, in the common module setting you can hide the forum and select your new instructor group as the group allowed to view this forum.

  1. First, create a group for the instructors and TAs by following the instructions in the Creating a Group and Groupings help page.
  2. Next, create a forum:
    • Log in to GauchoSpace and enter your course site.
    • Click Turn editing on.
    • Select the week/section block in which you would like the forum, click Add an activity or resource, and select Forum.
    • Provide a name for your Forum.
    • Select the forum type from the drop down menu.
    • Go to Restrict Access and Add restriction...
    • Click to add restriction by Group.

    • Select the new instructor group you want to allow access to the forum.
    • Click Save and return to course at the bottom of the page.

Forum Tips: Selecting a rating aggregation method

If you decide to enable ratings in your forum to allow your forum to appear in the Gradebook for a grade, you will need to select an aggregation method.

  • Aggregation Type: how all the ratings given are combined to form the final grade.
    • Average of ratings (default): This is the mean of all the ratings given. Tip: It is especially useful with peer grading when there are a lot of ratings being made.
    • Count of ratings: Counts the number of rated entries which becomes the final grade. This is useful when the number of posts is important. When using this method, you need to be conscious of how many points you select in the Scale setting, since this aggregate type counts each rating as one point, regardless of the value placed in the rating. Note: The total cannot exceed the maximum grade allowed for the forum. Tip: When students are required to make a certain number of posts in a discussion, a count may be used if the teacher simply wants to acknowledge that a reply was given.
    • Maximum rating: The highest rating is returned as the final grade. Tip: This method is useful for emphasizing the best work from participants, allowing them to post one high-quality post as well as a number of more casual responses to others.
    • Minimum rating: The smallest rating is returned as the final grade. Tip: This method promotes a culture of high quality for all entries.
    • Sum of ratings: All the ratings for a particular user are added together. This is a good method if you want to assess the quality and quantity of posts at the same time. You should avoid rating an entry with the maximum value, because the student will automatically get 100% for the activity. Note: The total cannot exceed the maximum grade allowed for the forum.

Other resources on ratings: Moodle.org Ratings and Moodlerooms.com ratings best practices.

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