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Forum Reference Guide

Summary

The forum tool is an activity where students and teachers can exchange ideas by posting comments. Instructors may allow files to be attached to posts, attached images will be displayed inline. There are five basic forum types within GauchoSpace, for most purposes the standard forum for general use works the best. Forums can also interact with the Gradebook, if you use ratings.

Note: The “Instructor’s Announcements” forum is a simple discussion forum that is pre-programmed into every course site. Only the instructor and editing TAs may create posts for this forum, students are not able to respond.


Understanding Forum Settings

General

  • Forum name: Required. What the students will see when selecting the link from your course's homepage and the name in the Gradebook, if you plan to grade the forum.
  • Description: Required. This is where you tell your students what they need to know to complete work in the forum.
  • Display description on course page: Select this if you want the full description (above) to also appear on your course page under the name of the forum.
  • Forum Type: Use this drop-down to select the type of forum you would like to create. Choices are:
    1. A single simple discussion: A single discussion topic that everyone can reply to (cannot be used with separate groups).
    2. Each person posts one discussion: Each student can post exactly one new discussion topic, to which everyone in the class can then reply.
    3. Q and A Forum: The instructor posts a question for students to answer. Before viewing other students' posts, students must first post their own responses.
    4. Standard forum for general use: An open forum where anyone can start a new discussion at any time.
    5. Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format: Like the Standard forum for general use, this is an open forum in which anyone can start a discussion. Each discussion is displayed on one page with a discuss this topic link instead of reply.

Attachments and Word Count

Choose whether you would like to enable users to upload attachments to this forum. If you enable users to upload attachments, then you can also limit the number and size of attachments. Finally, you can enable the forum to show users the word count of their posts.

Subscription and Tracking

Subscription: When a user is subscribed to a forum they will receive notifications via email approximately 30 minutes after someone has posted to the forum (Users can change their email preferences through their profile on their GauchoSpace home page). There are four different subscription options an instructor may choose from:

  • Optional Subscription: Participants can choose whether to be subscribed.
  • Forced Subscription: Everyone is subscribed and cannot unsubscribe.
  • Auto Subscription: Everyone is subscribed initially but can choose to unsubscribe at any time.
  • Subscription Disabled: Subscriptions are not allowed. This prevents users from subscribing to a forum.

Tip: Any subscription mode changes will only affect users who enroll in the course in the future, and not existing users. Therefore, changing the setting from “forced subscription” to “optional subscription” will not unsubscribe existing users; it will only affect those who enroll in the course in the future.

Tracking: "Read tracking" for a forum allows users to track read and unread forum posts. There are three options for this setting:

  • Optional: Students can turn tracking on or off for the forum via their profile 'Forum Tracking' option.
  • Off: It is not possible to track unread forum posts.
  • On: Tracking is always on in this forum, regardless of user preference or setting.

Post threshold for blocking

Sometimes you may want to limit the number of times users may post to a particular forum during a given time period. The time period for blocking setting establishes the time period during which posts are limited, while the post threshold for blocking setting allows you to set the number of times a person may post during that period (see the image below). You may also set a warning to let users know that they are about to be blocked.

Grade

If you have enabled ratings (see below) then your forum will appear in your Gradebook. This setting enables you to choose the category in your Gradebook in which this forum will appear.

Ratings

It is possible to rate forum posts within GauchoSpace. Instructors and editing TAs are given this permission by default. If you want to give students permission to rate a forum see instructions here: Forum Permissions.

It is important to understand how GauchoSpace calculates Forum grades. Ratings have the same weight for all entries--GauchoSpace does not differentiate original discussions from Forum replies, and it does not automatically grant points based on the number of posts. Teachers will have to rate each entry and GauchoSpace will calculate the final grade based on the select aggregate type. You will need to first select an aggregation type.

  • Aggregation Type: how all the ratings given are combined to form the final grade. For tips on which aggregation type to select, visit our Best Practices for Forums page.
    • Average of ratings (default): This is the mean of all the ratings given.
    • Count of ratings: Counts the number of rated entries which becomes the final grade.
    • Maximum rating: The highest rating is returned as the final grade.
    • Minimum rating: The smallest rating is returned as the final grade.
    • Sum of ratings: All the ratings for a particular user are added together.

You will next select a scale or maximum number of "points" raters may use. Choosing a number, 10, for example, means that raters can choose any number from 0-10.

Note: The ratings system can be complicated. If you choose to enable ratings so that instructors or TAs can rate posts we suggest using the sum of ratings aggregation method and setting the scale to the total number of points that the activity will be worth as a grade.

Common module settings

This section, in all activities, refers to settings that are common across multiple, different activities. For forums the Group settings will be the most useful. If you enable Groups in your forum, then you can restrict which participants are able to view and post to the different discussions that you create within a single forum. For example, you may set up a single forum, but restrict different discussions within the forum to predefined groups, such as your discussion sections. Note: Group mode will not work in “single simple discussion” forums because only one discussion is allowed.

  • Visible: If the assignment is hidden, students will not see the assignment. This is the same as using the "Hide/Show" eye icon on your course page.
  • ID Number: A way to identify the forum in the gradebook, but can be left blank.
  • Group mode:
    • Visible Group: Each group works in their own group, but can also see other groups. The other groups' work is read-only. In this setting, teachers are given the option of adding a new discussion topic for all participants or for a selected group. If a teacher adds a new discussion topic for a selected group, then only group members can reply to it. Students can only start discussions for their own group. Students can only reply to discussions started by other group members or teachers.
    • Separate Groups: Each group can only see their own group, others are invisible. In this setting, teachers are given the option of adding a new discussion topic for all participants or for a selected group. If a teacher adds a new discussion topic for a selected group then only group members can reply to it. If a teacher adds a new discussion topic for all participants, then students can't reply to it. Students can only start discussions for their own group. Students can only reply to discussions started by other group members or discussions for their own group started by a teacher.
    • No Groups: There are no sub groups, everyone is part of one big community. They can see all other users’ activity and interact with them.
  • Grouping: If you have groupings, you can select a grouping here to assign the activity to a specific grouping, which is a group of groups. You can use this setting to make a resource available to particular students.

Restrict Access

You can limit access (i.e., ability to see) to an activity by adding conditions. More information on conditions can be found in the help page on Restricting access to specific users.

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