Did you know that forums can be used for many different types of learning activities? Sure forums can be used to get students communicating and interacting via postings, but they can also start meaningful discussions to help students grasp new concepts and engage with their course work.
With a little bit of planning, you can stimulate student learning and add variety to your class with forums. In this post, we’ll share some tips to help you become a Forum activity master.
Selecting a Forum Type
Forums can be used to help students to develop a sense of community, demonstrate knowledge about key concepts, build a consensus, and reflect on materials that they have worked with outside of class. It’s important to choose the type of forum that makes sense for the activity you are asking students to complete. The CLE has five forum types, each with a slightly different layout and purpose:
- A Single Simple Discussion
Only one topic, started by the instructor, is allowed. This is best suited for short-term, focused conversations.
- Each Person Posts One Discussion
Each student may start one new topic. Students are not limited in the number of replies they can post within those topics.
- Q and A Forum
An instructor posts one topic, for example, posing a question to students. Students must post their response before they can view other students’ responses.
- Standard Forum Displayed in a Blog-like Format
Allow multiple topics listed with the most recent topic at the top of the page and replies behind a link. Students may start new topics in this format.
- Standard Forum for General Use
Allow multiple topics arranged in a threaded conversation. Students may start new topics in this format.
Controlling Email Notifications
Every time you add a new forum to your course, you can determine whether or not students will receive email notifications when someone posts or replies to that forum. This is done by setting the subscription mode for the forum.
There are 4 subscription modes that faculty can choose:
- 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, This can be useful if the forum is set up for faculty only.
When viewing a forum, subscription mode settings appear in the Administration block. These settings will allow you to quickly change the Subscription mode options and view the current subscribers via the Show/edit current subscribers link.
Setting Up Forums
The CLE makes it easy for faculty and course staff to make edits to forums, but it’s important to follow some simple steps when setting them up initially to avoid any confusion: (1) select a forum type, (2) decide which subscription mode you will use, (3) set any permission overrides for instructor notifications, and (4) set up Groups if necessary.
- Changing the subscription mode from Yes, initially to No will not unsubscribe existing users; it will only affect those who enroll in the course in the future. Similarly changing Yes, initially will not subscribe existing course users but only those enrolling later.
- If a forum was initially set up as Forced and then is changed to Optional, the subscription mode will reset and students will need to subscribe to the forum to receive notifications.
- Forcing everyone to subscribe to forums is useful towards the beginning of the course when students may not be familiar with the settings.
- If students are unable to unsubscribe to a forum, but want to receive fewer forum notification emails from the CLE, they can update their profile to receive a digest of emails from the CLE, instead of receiving a separate email for every forum post.
Groups & Forums
Did you know that the Forum activity can be set up for Groups? When you apply Groups to forums, you have the option of sharing discussions with the entire class or restricting them to specific students or groups. You have a couple of options for setting up Groups in forums:
Separate Groups – Students can only see postings for their own group, others are invisible.
Visible Groups – Students work in their own group, but can also see other groups’ postings.
- Apply a Grouping to create a forum that is only visible to a particular group.
- Use separate Groups in the Forum activity to create a private journal activity, create groups of one and only the instructor and TAs will be able to read students’ posts.
- Apply separate Groups to a forum and add discussion topics for a selected group then only group members can reply to it.
- The Learning Tech Support Site has additional information about creating forums and posting to forums.
- Moodle Docs has all the details about forum settings.
Have you ever had a great idea for creating a multimedia project, but didn’t know where to get started? No need to worry, the Learning Tech Group’s got you covered! Here are some tips for how to go about planning and creating an effective project while using the Library Tech Commons resources.
Develop a plan
Before you begin your project, you’ll need to come up with a plan. Start by defining your goals for the project, the message you would like to convey, and remember to keep your audience in mind.
Consider how you will deliver the project and choose the media that best coveys your message. If you’re not so sure which media to use, schedule an appointment with the Learning Tech Group to get some guidance during this step. Once you decide which media you will use, then determine the necessary skills and resources needed to complete the project, and how much time will be involved.
Use the Tech Commons Resources
The Tech Commons offers audio and video equipment and workstations equipped with an assortment of multimedia editing applications. Learn more about how you can use these resources to create your projects below:
The Equipment for Loan Program offers a comprehensive collection of video and audio equipment for a variety of media production needs. This is a free service available to UCSF students, staff, and faculty only. Our equipment is used ever day for a variety of projects, including interviews, medical demonstrations, and even student skits. A full list of our offerings is available on our Support Center website.
Tech Commons’ Multimedia Workstations are available on the 2nd floor of the UCSF Library (CL-240) and in the eLearning Studio (CL-245). In addition to standard web and productivity software, the multimedia workstations include a wide range of multimedia editing applications. A complete list of software/hardware available is available on our Support Center Website.
If you are looking for a quiet place to record and build learning modules, check out the eLearning Studio (CL-245) in the UCSF Tech Commons. This room is appropriate for projects that cannot be completed using public workstations, such as recording narration, working with protected health information, or collaborating with a group on a video or audio project. The eLearning Studio is in high demand so reserve it in advance and read more about it on the Convergence blog.
Help and Support
Learning Tech Specialists are available to help guide you through the process of creating multimedia projects. We can help you find the right tool for the job, teach you how to use that tool, and support you until the project is complete. Register for a Tech Clinic or make an appointment with us to get some guidance on your project!
UCSF’s Digital Asset Database includes logos, photographs, illustrations, video and documents that can be used by the UCSF community.
UCSF’s Brand Identity site has information on how to communicate UCSF’s brand consistently and has a variety of templates in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint available for download.
UCSF Digital Accessibility offers information about UCSF’s accessibility policy. This site also has resources for making online content available to all and removing barriers that prevent access to websites by people with disabilities.
Copyright at UCSF is an online guide that provides information on copyright, publishing, and intellectual property.
In preparation for the Fall 2016 quarter at UCSF, the Learning Tech Group has been busy developing CLE support resources for new and returning students. Below is a short video covering frequently asked questions from students, as well as links to support documents designed to set students up for success in the UCSF CLE.
Are you a faculty member or support staff for a course that uses the CLE? Feel free to add links to these resources in your CLE courses or email this blog post to students. As always, contact us with any questions or feedback, or just leave a comment below. We’d love to know what you think, or if there are other topics you think we should cover.CLE FAQ Video for Students CLE Student Help Docs
- Need to access a CLE course? Learn how to Find a CLE course.
- Are you new to UCSF and need to edit your CLE profile and picture? Click for instructions on updating your CLE Profile.
- Want to quickly access CLE courses? Learn how to customize the My Home Page.
- Interested in personalizing your CLE course view? Learn how to Dock CLE Blocks.
- Using the forum activity? Find instructions to Post to a Forum.
- Want to print a CLE syllabus? You can Print a Book.
- Need to know how you are doing in a CLE course? See instructions on how to View Course Grades.
- Having an upcoming CLE exam? Read the CLE Exam Tips for Students.
Good luck this quarter from the Learning Tech Group!