Discussion Forum

The discussion forum allows participants to respond to a specified topic, much like other internet forums. Depending on the settings, discussion forums can track how many times a participant has posted or replied to another’s post, or limit the number of times a single student posts. We encourage you to use Moodle or WordPress Forums with your students, depending on your goals.

Potential Applications:

  • Have students write a discussion post once a week or on a rotating basis to prepare for discussions
  • Ask students to read and reply to one another’s posts to encourage the exchange of ideas
  • Reply to a student’s post to correct or expand upon their ideas

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Tips and Tricks

  • Encourage students to use descriptive titles on their posts. This helps other students find concepts they are interested in engaging with.
  • Assign smaller groups and alternate which groups are posting
  • Model the type of responses you expect
  • Give choices when possible
  • Prompt should encourage students to share, persuade or debate
  • Encourage students to interact with other posts!
  • As an instructor, interact with the forum and provide summaries on what students have said
  • Don’t give grades when students are trying to build community

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Using Discussion forums affords opportunities for all participants in a course to engage in lively conversations asynchronously. When creating a new forum you have several choices as to how to grow conversations with participants. Below is a brief description of each forum type. After these descriptions we dive a bit deeper into the Q & A Forum as we believe it offers a robust set of options worth your exploring.

  • A single simple discussion – A single topic discussion developed on one page, which is useful for short focused discussions (cannot be used with separate groups)
  • 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, and everyone else responds to these
  • Q and A Forum – Instead of initiating discussions participants pose a question in the initial post of a discussion. 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.
  • Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format


In Moodle, the Q & A forum allows for authentic responses from participants. In a Q and A forum, you post the question and students respond with possible answers. Unlike other forums, in the Q&A forum, students cannot create new topics – they can only respond to a topic that you post. In addition, students cannot see each other’s responses until they have posted once in response to your topic. Below is what a student sees when they first arrive in a Q & A Forum.

Screenshot of Q&A Moodle Forum

Responses of other students are hidden until AFTER a student posts once. This type of engagement allows students to post their original ideas and are not swayed at all by other’s ideas.

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