Using Forum

Forum activity

This page contains extra information for students and teachers about using the forum activity.


For all users


A permalink allows us to link directly to a specific forum post so we can share it easily with others. We will see the permalink option when clicking to reply to a post. If you click the permalink (1), it is highlighted to the side (2) and we will have a particular web address (3) which we can then copy and paste to use elsewhere:

Forum preferences

Users can set their forum preferences via Preferences in the user menu top right. (Defaults for each of these settings can be set by an administrator in Administration > Site administration > Accounts > User default preferences.)

Track read and unread forum posts

The posts will be highlighted in the following places:

Only posts made in the last two weeks are tracked as read or unread. Older posts are all reported as read.

Note: We can also choose to have any forum post notifications automatically marked as read (so they don't appear in the Unread list.) Some people find this confusing and prefer to keep them as unread:

Display options

Forum posting

The default content of Subject is usually 'Re: <the name of the 'parent' post>'. We can change it though.

Adding images, sound and video


New feature
in Moodle 3.3!
Forum posts may be tagged.

Tags can be managed by a site administrator in Manage tags in the Site administration. Forum post tags may be added to a specified tag collection and standard tags may be suggested or forced. If desired, forum post tagging may be disabled completely.

Post editing time limit

Once a post has been made, students can go back and edit it within set time limit. This is usually 30 minutes and is set by an administrator in Site policies in the Site administration. Note that teachers can always edit their posts.

Moving between forum threads

Links top and bottom left and right (where applicable) take us to the previous and next forum discussion in a list:

Post a copy to all groups

Teachers and other users with the capability to post in all groups they have access to can post the same message once only to all groups by selecting 'All participants' and clicking the Add a new discussion topic button:

Once they have typed the post, they tick the box 'Post a copy to all groups':

When saved, the post will be reproduced for each group:

Reply to posts via email

If enabled by an administrator (in Mail configuration), we can reply to forum posts via email.

  1. Click the Reply by email link in the email. We will see a special unique email address to send your reply to.
  2. Reply using the email address provided. IMPORTANT: Make sure you remove the original email content so that your forum post does not contain the quoted text.
  3. You should receive an email saying your reply has been successfully posted.
  4. Your post now appears in the forum.

Exporting forum posts

Users with the mod/forum:exportdiscussion or mod/forum:exportownpost or mod/forum:exportpost permission can export forum posts to any portfolio the administrator has enabled:

See the discussion Printing/exporting forum discussions for further details.

For teachers

Pinned posts

When adding a new discussion as a teacher, we can make it 'sticky' by ticking the box to 'pin' the discussion to the top of the list. Any forum discussions which come after that will appear underneath this pinned post. If you later untick the box to 'unpin' it, it will display as a regular forum discussion, moving down the list when others are posted.

'Send forum post notifications with no editing time delay'

Teachers (and others with the capability to manage course activities) will see this option when posting to a forum. Ticking this box will send a notification to everyone subscribed to that forum with no editing time delay. (Users normally have 30 minutes to edit their posts.)

Note: For users who have enabled email digests in their forum preferences, the notification is NOT sent separately from other forum post notifications.

Display period

Teachers (and others with the capability mod/forum:viewhiddentimedposts) can set a display period of a date and time for the forum post to appear.

Note: Timed forum posts was included in previous versions of Moodle as an experimental feature. In Moodle 3.1 onwards it is enabled by default for new installations. For sites upgrading from a previous version, it may be enabled via Site administration > Plugins > Activity modules > Forum.

Locking a discussion

Forum threads may be automatically locked after a certain period of inactivity. This is done from the setting 'Discussion locking' when creating or editing a new forum.

Moving a discussion

Teachers and other users with the capability to move discussions can move a discussion to any other forum in the course for which they have appropriate rights.

  1. Click on the arrow in the 'Move this discussion to...' dropdown menu in the top right corner of the page and select a destination forum.
  2. Click the Move button.

Note: Moving a forum post will display incorrect results in the course participation report for the affected forums. For example, take a student who posted in forum A and had their post moved to forum B. In the course participation report the student will still be listed has having made a post in forum A, but will not be listed as having made a post yet in forum B.

Note: Discussion subscriptions are retained when a post is moved.

Splitting a discussion

Teachers and other users with the capability to split discussions can split a discussion thread. Splitting a discussion means that beginning with the post selected and going to the end of that sub-thread, the posts are cut from the current discussion topic and put into a newly created discussion topic. If discussion has strayed away from the original topic, splitting the discussion can provide new attention and space for the tangent discussion while keeping the original discussion on topic.

  1. Click the link 'Split' in the forum post
  2. Enter a new discussion name (optional)
  3. Click the Split button

Note: Discussion subscriptions are NOT retained when a post is split.

Using groups with forums

'Group mode' available from the Common module settings has three options. (Note that you must have groups in our course to use this feature.)

If the group mode is set to separate groups:

If the group mode is set to visible groups:

Teachers, and other users with the capability moodle/site:accessallgroups set to allow, can view and post in all forum discussions, regardless of the group mode setting.

Where visible groups are used, the user's own groups will be shown first in the list, followed by other groups:

Note: Single simple discussions cannot be set to separate groups (as this feature is not implemented). Instead, a standard forum should be used. If required, a permissions override may be set to prevent students from starting new discussions. For teachers who have access to all or several groups in a forum, this setting allows them post the same message once only to all groups.

Where teacher have access to several groups, they can post the same message once only to all the groups they have access to by selecting 'All participants' and clicking the Add a new discussion topic button:

Once they have typed the post, they tick the box 'Post a copy to all groups':

When saved, the post will be reproduced for each group:

Ideas for using forums

Ask yourself

  1. you wish to have involvement in the forum or if you want the students to lead and own the space
  2. you want the forum to add value to the face to face environment or have a life of its own in its own right outside the lecture theatre/classroom or seminar room
  3. we are prepared to make appropriate contributions to the discussion in order to:

    1. encourage discussion if students are quiet
    2. help shape ideas if students begin to wander off-task
    3. your role will be defined as discussions/a course progresses
    4. we will explicitly but gradually relinquish control of the discussions
    5. we will encourage and support learners to share control of discussions(for example you might ask a learner/group of learners to summarise contributions to a discussion thread/topic or you might ask learners to initiate discussion topics)