Best practices: Time savers with forums

Today we're continuing our new blog series "Best Practices." Written by Open LMS ' very own Learning Solutions team the Best Practices series will continue to run bi-weekly and highlight best practices for Moodle™ use inside and outside of the traditional classroom.

In today's post Open LMS Instructional Designer and Trainer Jeff Geronimo highlights how educators can save time by configuring their Forums in a particular fashion.

Thanks for reading,


The online teaching and learning process continues to present many challenges as we move ahead in today’s digital age. With all of the exciting technologies out there taming the virtual classroom can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately the Joule e-Learning platform is packed with some rich time-saving tools that can assist in keeping the classroom from getting out of control. Among countless tips and advice on keeping your online classroom running smoothly one of the most tried and true best practices is stimulating active discussion and providing prompt feedback to learners.

Let’s take a look at how Joule’s Read Tracking and Subscription Mode can help you stay on top of the latest discussions so you can ultimately spend less time tinkering with your course and more time teaching.

If you have multiple forums in your classroom you’ll definitely want to make sure that you and your learners are keeping abreast of the latest discussion posts. The first way to do this is by configuring the Subscription mode in each of your forums. When participants are subscribed to a forum they will receive copies of forum posts straight to their email. To configure the Subscription mode first turn editing turned on then navigate to the Settings area of any forum. In the drop-down menu next to Subscription mode you can choose from 4 subscription mode options available in Joule:

  1. Optional subscription: participants can choose whether to be subscribed. You can choose this setting to give your learners ultimate flexibility in how they choose to be informed of the latest discussions.
  2. Forced subscription: everyone is subscribed and cannot unsubscribe. This is great if you have a dedicated forum for important topics that your learners need to read.
  3. Auto subscription: everyone is subscribed initially but can choose to unsubscribe at any time.
  4. Subscription disabled: subscriptions are not allowed.

So now that you’ve tweaked your subscription settings you might also want to take a glance at the Read tracking setting right below the Subscription mode setting. When enabled instructors and learners alike can track read and unread messages in the forums. If you’re like me and have to keep track of all of the discussion posts in various forums you can use the drop-down menu next to Read tracking for this forum to turn on read tracking. When read tracking is on you’ll have the convenience of seeing the number of unread messages next to your forums from the front page of your course. Alternatively you can select Optional to allow your learners to choose whether to turn tracking on or off or you can simply turn off tracking altogether. Be sure to save your changes when you’re done!

Hopefully you’ll find the subscription mode and read tracking features to be highly useful and time-saving as they will definitely help you manage and facilitate your forums more effectively. Keep checking back soon for additional blogs on more time-saving tips and features in Moodle™ and Joule 2!




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