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Discussion forums in Moodle

Discussion Forums are a popular online communication medium, allowing users to exchange asynchronous conversation with course leaders/teachers and peers within the security of a Moodle course.

1. Click 'Add an activity or resource' in the Section/Topic where you want the 'Discussion Forum' to be.

2. Choose 'Forum' from the list of 'Activities' and click the 'Add' button.

3. Type a name for the 'Forum' , and a description if you would like. Tip: The description might be instructions on what you would like students to use the forum for as they will see it at the top.

4. A number of different types of 'Discussion Forum' are available in Moodle depending on requirements. Choose which type of Forum you require from the drop-down menu (see below).

  • Standard forum for general use: An open forum where anyone can start a new topic at any time; this is the best general-purpose forum.
  • Each person posts one discussion: Each person can post exactly one new discussion topic (everyone can reply to them though); this is useful when you want each student to start a discussion about, say, their reflections on the week's topic or as an introduction task, and everyone else responds to these.
  • A single simple discussion: A single topic discussion developed on one page, which is useful for short focused discussions.
  • Q and A Forum: Students may reply with an answer, but they will not see the replies of other Students to the question in that discussion until they have themselves replied to the same discussion (this acts as a way of encouragement and students are not influenced by other posts read before).

Tip: If the types of discussion forum weren't detailed for you above, you could click on the icon to find out. Always a useful icon to look out for when setting up any Moodle activity or resource!

5. Another important consideration when setting up a 'Discussion Forum' is the 'Subscription mode'. Subscription

Tip: Notice the icon again - click to find out what each mode means (or see below). When a user is subscribed to a forum it means that they will receive notification (via popup and/or email, depending on the user’s messaging settings preferences) of each new posting.

People can usually choose whether or not they want to be subscribed to each forum. However, the teacher can choose to force subscription on a particular forum then all course users will be subscribed automatically, even those that enrol at a later time.

There are 4 subscription mode options:

Optional subscription: Participants can choose whether to be subscribed
Forced subscription: Everyone is subscribed and cannot unsubscribe
Auto subscription: Everyone is subscribed initially but can choose to unsubscribe at any time
Subscription disabled: Subscriptions are not allowed.

6. When you're happy with all of your settings, scroll to the bottom of the settings page and click 'Save and display' or 'Save and Return to course'

ADVANCED TIP: Forum posts can be rated by teachers or students (peer evaluation). Ratings can be aggregated to form a final grade which is recorded in the gradebook.

For more advanced guidance on the 'Discussion Forum' please see:


The information on this page relates to Moodle v3.4 and was last updated October 2018.

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