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Setting Up Forums

Why Do This

Forums are one of the most powerful and versatile activities in CC. A well-run forum can stimulate a thoughtful exchange of ideas, motivate students to be involved, give the shy students a voice or act as a team workspace. In online courses, the forums may be the primary method by which you, the Instructor, build that sense of community which is so crucial to retention. Forums can be set up with groups, forum posts can be graded, and students can submit attachments to forum posts and replies.

See  the faculty guide>Forums>Using Forums, for a thorough introduction to the different ways to use forums, how to write effective forum questions and a description of the 5 forum types and when to use each.

Jump to:

 

Add a Forum

1. Log onto Cougar Courses and go to your course.  

2. In the Contents area at the top, click on the topic where you would like to add the forum.  

3. Once selected, scroll to the bottom of the topic.

4. Click the Create Learning Activity link at the bottom left of the topic.
create learning activity link

5. In the list of Activities, click on Forum.


General Section:

6. Enter a descriptive Name for the Forum.

7. Enter a Description of your forum and your forum prompts. You can use the HTML editor toolbar to format the text, add images, tables, links, etc.

Hint: Include specific instructions for the students in this section, regarding the subject of the forum, the grading criteria and number of initial posts and replies you expect, as well as the due dates for each.

Note: If  using the Q & A forum type you must enter your prompts using the Add a Question button. (see Q & A forums below).

8. Select the Forum type.  See the faculty guide>Forums>Using Forums for a description of each type.
forum settings

Notes:  
• If you are using groups, refer to the Using Forums document and carefully read the forum descriptions and tips.  Different forum types handle groups differently. 
• If using groups with the Q&A forum type, see Using the Q & A Forum with Groups below  for setup instructions.

Attachments and word count

9. Attachments: Determines whether students can add attachments to their post, and limits size and number of these attachments.
attachments and word count options

10. Word count: Specifies whether the word count of each post is displayed, or not.

Subscription and tracking

11. Subscription mode: Determines whether participants will receive email copies of forum posts.

  1. Optional to allow participants to choose to opt in.
  2. Auto subscription to subscribe everyone initially but allow them to unsubscribe at any time.
  3. Forced subscription – everyone is subscribed and cannot unsubscribe. – Use this with caution! 

subscription mode

12. Read tracking: If enabled, allows users to track read and unread forum messages.

Post threshold for blocking

This section can be used to warn and block students from posting more than a given number of posts in a given time period.
 threshold blocking

Ratings

This section allows you to determine how student posts are graded and to restrict grading to posts submitted within a date range.  

ratings settings and maximum points
 
Aggregate type: The aggregate type determines how the ratings for all of a student’s posts within the forum are aggregated into one score. You can rate each post, using a dropdown just below the post.  The dropdown will display all points to the maximum assigned.   

13. Select one of the aggregate types.

  • Average of ratings - The mean of all ratings for the student in that forum.
  • Count of ratings - The number of rated items becomes the final grade. Note that the total cannot exceed the maximum grade for the activity.
  • Maximum - The highest rating becomes the final grade
  • Minimum - The smallest rating becomes the final grade
  • Sum - All ratings are added together. Note that the total cannot exceed the maximum grade for the activity.
  • If "No ratings" is selected, then the activity will not appear in the gradebook. 

 
14. Restrict ratings to items with dates in this range: When selected, the rating dropdown will not be available for posts outside of the specified date range, preventing the instructor from assigning points for "late" posts.  Students will still be able to view the forum and post outside of the range.  

  restrict rating setting
 Common module settings - Using Groups in a Forum

  • You must have the groups already set up set up and students added to the groups in your course via Administration>Users>groups.
  1. In the forum settings, scroll to the Common module settings.

    common module settings for groups
  2. Set the Group mode to Separate groups or Visible groups.  
    • Separate groups - Each group member can only see their own group, others are invisible.
    • Visible groups - Each group member works in their own group, but can also see (not contribute to) other groups.
  3. Select a Grouping, if you have assigned your groups to a grouping.
  4. Click on Save and display at the bottom of the page.

Using the Q&A forum

  • In the Q & A forum, students will not see other replies until they have posted their reply, and the 15 minute editing window has passed.
  • When using this forum type, do not enter your prompt in the description field.  Create the “question” (discussion prompt) using the Add a new question button. 
    Q and A forum type

  • Students select the discussion, read your “Question” and click reply to “Answer”.     

reply to prompt from instructor
 
Using the Q&A forum with groups

  • Unlike any other forum type, when using the Q&A forum with groups, you must create the initial “question” for every group.
  • You must have the groups already set up set up and students added to the groups in your course via Administration>Users>groups.
  1. In the forum settings, scroll to the Common module settings.

    common module settings for groups
  2. Set the Group mode to Separate groups or Visible groups.  
    • Separate groups - Each group member can only see their own group, others are invisible.
    • Visible groups - Each group member works in their own group, but can also see (not contribute to) other groups.
  3. Select a Grouping, if you have assigned your groups to a grouping.
  4. Click on Save and display at the bottom of the page.
  5. Click Add a new question.
  6. Enter the Subject.
  7. In the Message field, type your question/prompts.
    subject and message in the forum discussion prompt
  8. Scroll down and check the box Post a copy to all groups.
    Note: If you skip this step, you will have to create a new post, or post a question to each group separately. You won’t be able to edit the post in order to check this box.
    post to all groups setting in the forum prompt
  9. Click Post to forum.