Online forums, in all their different iterations, are a hotbed of activity across the internet. From social media and comments sections, to image boards, to more specialized and exclusive venues, forums carry the weight of our minds. The simplicity of use makes it also a perfect target for not so constructive participation, or downright antisocial behavior. Courtesy of the Convergence blog by the library of UC San Francisco, we share some ideas on how to promote best practices and keep disruption at bay to ensure meaningful forum interactions.
Pay attention to the type
Moodle features at least four types of forums: Standard, or the classic take; Single discussion where students can only reply to threads started by teachers; Blog type where the starting post looks like an article with a comments section underneath; or Q&A. Each type affect the kinds of contributions you’ll get from students, so choose carefully.
Provide and promote notifications
With each new release, Moodle has extended the controls over notifications students can receive after they interact in a forum. They can subscribe to a forum or author, and get updates even if they haven’t contributed; or sign up for notifications when a post they have written receives a reply. If students have Moodle Mobile enable, they can choose to get mobile notifications in addition to emails.
Sort and filter students and groups
Teachers can make forum contributions voluntary or mandatory. They can assign users to a group, or let them join, and access the group’s specific forum. The discussions can be set private to only the group participants, and they can be visible or hidden to members of other groups.
Set rules of behavior
A few guidelines, usually as dictated by common sense, can make participants aware of the penalties by disorderly conduct. Remind them they are still on school or institution ground, if applicable. For very extreme cases, consult the electronic harassment and cyberbulling laws applicable in your state or country.