Using forums with groups (including News Forum/Announcements)

Matthew Hope
MSc Health and Wellbeing

View PDF Using Moodle forums - Matthew Hope PDF.pdf


The course is a part-time distance course taken by elearning, online (2 years).  Students are occupational health professionals. There are two separate course areas on Moodle (Year 1 & Year 2)

We found we were duplicating resources, posting course announcements twice, and with the  students separate there were fewer opportunities for networking.

Forums were used for

  • Communication - to balance keeping students informed vs. email overload
  • To foster an online community: for sharing professional experience and for peer support & mentoring

What did you do?

We signposted the forums clearly, describing what they were for and how we were going to use them. We made sure to tell students what they were for right from the start.

We used "Forced subscription" where students cannot unsubscribe for important forums and "Auto subscription" where students are  initially subscribed - so receive emails - but can choose to unsusbscribe.

We set forum tracking on so the number of unread posts were displayed).

We sent different announcements to different groups.


How it worked 

It was really important to tell them clearly what the forums were for (and add a description), for example, they can’t reply to Announcements (News forum).

Students said they wanted important emails immediately so we advised them how to change their profile settings (which were initial set to a once-a-day digest) to Individual emails

Students appreciated forum tracking -- new posts are highlighted as soon as they go into the module (again this needs to be set in the module AND the students individually need to allow this in their profile)


How students liked it


Tips & recommendations for fostering online community

  • Use Introductions and icebreakers
  • Lecturer scaffolding is important
  • Bringing in humour / encouraging discussion
  • Students were encouraged to build their Moodle profiles


Further information


Moodle Bytes webinar recording: Moodle forums on the MSc Health and Wellbeing with Matthew Hope

How to achieve this

Contact Matthew Hope with any questions