Forums Moodle ISU


Forums in Moodle ISU allow students to answer questions, reply to one another, and discuss specific topics. The News Forum is a unique forum for instructors to make announcements; students cannot reply in the News Forum. A News Forum is automatically created in each Moodle ISU course.

This guide will help you to:

Creating a Forum

  1. Turn Editing On. For more information please see the Moodle ISU Overview.  
  2. Locate the week/topic where you want to add the forum.
  3. Click on the Add an Activity or Resource link.  A box will appear showing you all activities and resources.

  1. Click on the radio button next to Forum and Click the Add button.

  1. You will be taken to the Adding a New Forum page.

General Section

  1. In the Forum Name text box, Type the name of the forum. This is what students will click on to access the forum from the front page.

  1. In the Description text box, Type the forum instructions or a welcome message.
  1. If you would like the description to display on the course page, Click on the box next to Display Description on Course page.

Note: For the Single Simple Discussion these instructions become the first post in the single discussion thread.  

  1. Click on the Forum Type dropdown menu and Select the type of forum you want to use. The available options are:
  1. A single simple discussion: You have a single discussion topic, to which everyone can reply.  This is useful for short, focused discussions.  
  2. Each person posts one discussion: Each person can post exactly one new discussion topic (everyone can reply to all of the other discussions).
  3. Q & A forum: Requires the instructor to post the initial question and then the students must reply before viewing other students' responses.  After their initial posting, students can view and respond to other posts.

Note: For the instructor, the button which normally reads “Add a new discussion topic” reads “Add a new question”.  The students do not see this button.

Hot Tip: For more options on working with the Q & A forum, contact the ITRC.

  1. Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format: All of the discussion topics, including student replies, are displayed on one page with a Discuss this topic link that takes you to the discussion of the chosen topic. This type of forum is useful if you want to be able to read the topic message without having to enter the discussion. Students are able to post multiple topics and reply at any time.
  2. Standard forum for general use: An open forum in which anyone can start any number of new discussion topics at any time and everyone can reply to one another. This is the most commonly used forum.

  1. In the Attachments and Word Count section, Click on the Maximum Attachment Size dropdown menu to set the largest size of file that can be uploaded to this forum.
  2. Click on the Maximum Number of Attachments dropdown menu to set how many attachments a student can attach to a single post.

Hot Tip: 1MB is generally more than sufficient for most Word documents.  If your students are turning in files that include pictures (i.e., Magazine layouts, PowerPoint files) you will want to increase the file size as well as discuss how to compress images.

  1. In the Display Word Count dropdown menu, Select Yes or No.

  1. In the Subscriptions and Tracking section, Click on the Subscription Mode dropdown menu and Select the subscription mode you would like to apply to the forum. Subscribing to a forum means you will get an email copy of every post in the forum (emails are sent after a 30 minute editing period has passed).  

  1. Optional Subscription: Users can manage their subscription preferences to the forum. This is the default which leaves the choice up to each user.
  2. Forced subscription: Everyone (including the teachers) will be subscribed with no option to unsubscribe.  The News Forum uses this option.  

Hot Tip: The News Forum is a useful tool to communicate with your entire class.  Only Teachers may post in the News Forum. All posts remain in the News Forum with a date and time stamp, a notice is placed in the Latest News block, and all posts are automatically emailed to all the users.

  1. Auto subscription: All current and future students will be subscribed initially but they can unsubscribe themselves at any time. This is useful to help students recognize a new forum has begun.  Users still have control over their subscriptions.
  2. Subscription disabled: Students cannot be subscribed to the forum.

Hot Tip: When changing the subscription options in a forum, the change will only affect future posts; it will not automatically subscribe or unsubscribe existing students/instructors.

  1. Click on the Read Tracking for This Forum? dropdown menu to Select your read tracking setting. If this is enabled, students can track read and unread messages in forums and discussions. This means that students will see a notice next to the forum activity on the course page that shows the number of unread posts.
  1. Optional:  Students can turn tracking on or off for the forum at their discretion within their profile settings.
  2. On: Tracking is always on.
  3. Off: Tracking is always off.

Note: Users must have enabled Forum Tracking in their profile to be able to use this option.

Post Threshold for Blocking Section

Thresholds for blocking allow you to block excessive posting. This section has three options:

  1. If you would like to use the Post threshold for blocking, Click on the Time Period for Blocking dropdown menu to define the period in which a student may create posts. After this time period, their count will reset.
  1. For example, if you have the time period set to 1 day and the post threshold set to 5, then a student can only post 5 times in a given day. After 24 hours, their count will reset.

  1. In the Post Threshold for Blocking text box, Type the number of posts a student can make in the time period you set in the Time Period for Blocking dropdown menu.
  2. In the Post Threshold for Warning text box, Type the number of posts after which a student will be warned that they are approaching their post limit for the time period.

Note: Leaving the Time period for blocking as Don’t block will disable this function.

Grade Section

If you have created categories in your gradebook this section will allow you to place the forum into a grade category.  If you have not created categories in your gradebook, Not Categorized will be the only option in the dropdown menu.

  1. In the Grade category dropdown menu , Select the category you would like this assignment to show up under in your gradebook.

Note: You can always move an activity into a grade category within the gradebook.

Note: You must first create a category in the gradebook before it will appear in this dropdown menu.  See the Using the Gradebook handout for more information.

Ratings Section

When you are grading a forum post it is referred to as rating.  If you do not want to use the Moodle ISU 2 rating system to grade your forum, or the forum is not being graded, leave the Aggregate type as No ratings and skip to the next section.

  1. Roles with Permission to Rate tells you which roles (student, faculty, administrator, etc.) have permission to rate the posts in the forum.

Note: The option to add or change roles with permission to rate will not be available until you have saved your Forum activity.

  1. Click on the Aggregate type to select how you would like the students’ post ratings to be calculated to form their final grade for this forum in the gradebook. There are six options to choose from:
  1. No ratings: Posts in this forum will not be rated and the forum will not appear in the gradebook.
  2. Average of ratings: The average rating of all of the student’s posts.
  3. Count of ratings: The student’s grade will be equal to their number of rated posts.
  4. Maximum rating: The student’s highest rating will be their grade.
  5. Minimum rating: The student’s lowest rating will be their grade.
  6. Sum of ratings: All of the student’s ratings are added together to make their grade.

Hot Tip: For more information about the forum aggregate types see

  1. Under the Scale menu, you will see any custom scales you have set up, as well as any numerical evaluation from 1 to 100.

Note: The Scale dropdown menu will be greyed out and unusable if you chose No ratings in the Aggregate type dropdown menu.

  1. If you want to restrict the ability to rate within certain dates, Check the box next to Restrict Ratings to Items With Dates in This Range box.
  2. Click on the From and the To dropdown menus to select the desired date and times.

Note: Restricting the ratings DOES NOT restrict students from posting. Students can post outside the window, but you will not be able to rate those postings.

Common Module Settings Section

For more information on common module settings please see Groups and Groupings.

Restrict Access

For more information on restricting access please contact the ITRC (, 282-5880)

When you have everything set

Click one of the save options at the bottom of the page.

Posting to a Forum

  1. Click on the forum.
  2. Click on ‘Add a new discussion topic.’

  1. Type your subject and message in the indicated text boxes.

  1. Set your subscription preference using the dropdown menu.

  1. To include an attachment in the forum post use the drag and drop file box.

  1. To set the display period check the checkboxes next to the display start line and display end line.

Note: Since there is not an option to set the time, please note that the display will begin or end at 12 AM on the date selected.

Note:  Students will not be able to access the forum (either to post or to view) after the display end date.

  1. Click ‘Post to forum’ to add your discussion to the forum.

Rating Posts

  1. Click on the forum.
  2. You will notice in each post on the bottom right there will be a Rate dropdown menu. Click on the dropdown menu to Select the appropriate score.

Hot Tip: For more strategies and techniques for grading forums please contact the ITRC.

Changing Rating Permissions

You can change the permissions to allow other roles- i.e. students- to rate forum posts.  This can be done for an entire course or for a specific activity.

  1. To change the permissions for a specific forum, Click on the forum.
  2. In the Administration block you will see Forum Administration. Underneath you will see the options for changing the settings for this specific forum. If you do not see the options, Click on the triangle to the left of Forum Administration.
  3. Click on the Permissions option. This will take you to Permissions in Forum: Name of your Forum page.

  1. Scroll down until you see the Activity: Forum main section.
  2. Locate the Rate posts section.
  3. Click the grey + in the Roles with permission column (the first column) to allow a role to rate posts. Click the grey X to remove a role’s ability to rate posts.

  1. Select the desired role from the Select role dropdown menu.
  2. Click the Allow button.

For more information, please see

This work was done by Instructional Technology Resource Center at Idaho State University and is licensed under the Creative Commons Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit Attribution Noncommercial 3.0 United States or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.