Initial Thoughts on the “Reply to Forums by Email” Feature for Moodle (it’s awesome)

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Replying by email to discussion forums will make it so easy to draft and respond to discussion posts (whether you are a lurker at Moodle.org or want a super easy way to respond to students without logging into your site again and again). VERP (Variable Envelope Return Path) allows discussion forums to be replied to by email by using unique reply to addresses and routing email within Moodle.

WIRIS

Andrew Nicols has done the work to allow this within Moodle (as a prototype) but he’s also gone further and added functionality that will allow users to email documents to their user private files and more.

The system I’ve conceived allows for much more than just e-mail to forum replies. There is an extensive API which be used to create a message handler for almost anything within Moodle. As an example, the above prototype site also includes an e-mail to private files feature. The full details can be found in the parent issue, MDL-47194.

So…does it work? It certainly does. You can try it out like I did at http://prototype.moodle.net/verp/ by creating an account and then creating a new discussion thread. This is the process:

  1. upon registration and enrollment you can create a thread
  2. creating a thread will deliver to you an email is 1-2 minutes
  3. if you’re not using Gmail you can simply reply to the email (Gmail users take note that you might need to copy/paste the reply email from the original post notification)
  4. once you’ve emailed your reply you’ll get a confirmation of reply (which I would say…in the future might not be required)
  5. log back into Moodle and see your reply.

Personally I’d like to see a “reply above this line” message to cut off email signatures or the original message text from being quoted. But otherwise this is a really promising Moodle feature.

Step by step screenshots mirroring the sequence highlighted above are below:

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