I am sure that you are familiar with the Recent Activity block. This block does what its name indicated, which is to list recent activity, most commonly, forum posts. You can also get a full report by clicking on the link “Full report of recent activity”. This is useful when you want to view recent forum posts.

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Information Overload 
It lists ALL recent activity, including forum posts in any and all forums by any and all users. Hence, one can easily get lost in all the details that appear in that block. In addition, if there was a lot of recent activity in the last 24 to 48 hours, then the block will take up a lot of vertical real estate on your Moodle course page!


Enter the “New Replies to my posts” block

Deep from the recesses of moodle.org, I have unearthed a year 2008 block that lists replies to your forum posts. It was written by Niall Barr. What does it do? It is an alternative new forum posts block that only displays new posts in threads that the current user has posted messages in.

When as teachers, we want to encourage (force!?) forum postings among ALL students in a class. Therefore, any tool that can motivate our students to post replies in forums, is greatly welcomed.

Here’s a forum post and tracker link that mention this block. It currently runs only under Moodle 1.9.x, but it is due to support Moodle 2.x in March 2012 according to this other tracker link.

Comments and Word-Of-Mouth

Here are some comments from Moodlers who have used this block:

Our students do everything on Facebook because it has this kind of functionality. It makes online conversations easy. Moodle forums need this because it gives them a bit of the functionality of Facebook. Please put this into the core so that my administrators will install it at my school. Thanks. – Jonathan Andreas

Should definitely be core, if it is not already. Dynamite block and has increased forum participation exponentially! This block is AWESOME! Loaded on our test server and I LOVE IT. Thanks to all who contributed to its development. … Staff/Students will love it. … a real time-saver and assist me in tracking my specific issues. … it has brought SO MUCH MORE interaction and engagement in forums to our course. I could not live without it!  Deb Burdick-Hinton

I couldn’t resist installing this block. It was very easy to install on my Moodle 1.9.15 production site. I then logged in with a student account or two and used those accounts to make replies to my own forum posts. Here’s what the “New replies to my posts” block displayed:



Now what you see may lack the pizzazz that you were expecting, but it really is exciting because it alerts and informs the forum poster of replies to his or her posts. Never mind that the output is fully text-based. This functionality now cranks up the interactivity of forum posts and replies a notch or two higher. The net result is that your teachers and students will get the satisfaction of receiving attention to their thoughts and opinions via replies from others. If you have ever posted a comment on an online forum, and received a reply, the feeling is GREAT.

Find a copy of the block to download here: http://tracker.moodle.org/secure/attachment/14653/block_new_forum_replies_20080724.zip

For installation instructions and more details, read here >>

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  1. is this recent activity module compatible on SMF forum ? can you please have a look at my forum and suggest how and where recent activity will best fit in ?

  2. The new replies block is available for Moodle LMS, I am unsure of any compatibility or portability for SMF forum. SMF might have a plugin repository (or you might look into some of the other open source forum tools like OSQA.


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