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Forums


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Description
Features and functions
Creating a forum
Creating a topic
Controlling access to forums and topics
Creating, posting and responding to conversations
Grading responses in forums
Setting forum preferences for email notifications



Description

Forums is a communication tool that instructors or site leaders can use to create an unlimited number of discussion forums for their course or project sites.

For information on how to add the Forums tool or any other tool after you have created your site, click here, or click Adding and removing tools, and changing options on the Site Info Tool help page, which you can access under "Site Management" in the help table of contents.



Features and functions

Forums: Forums provides an opportunity for your site participants to engage site resources and each other, and allows for the free expression of convergent and divergent ideas. Interactions can be assigned a point value and sent to the Gradebook.

Viewing forums: On your site's homepage (click Home on the site's menubar), participants can see how many unread forum messages they have. On the forums screen, participants see the number of unread messages and the grand total of messages for each topic. In the forums list, forums and topics are sorted chronologically by default.

Settings: The site owner (or another participant with the appropriate role) can require participants to submit their posts to a topic before they have permission to read the responses of others. Other settings provide control over access rights (i.e., which individuals or groups can see forums and contribute), the ability to hide messages until approved by a moderator (and reject and comment on unapproved messages), and control over permissions for creating forums, topics, messages, and responses.

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Creating a forum

By default, participants or students in a course site cannot create new forums.

To create a new forum, follow these steps:

1. In your site's menubar, click Forums. The Forums window will open.

2. Click the Create Forum? link (if this is your first time creating a forum) or click the New Forum link across the top of the window.

3. In the "Forum Title" field, type your forum's title. This is a required field, and is limited to 75 characters.

4. In the "Description" field, you can enter an in-depth description of your forum, and provide any associated information or resources.

5. Under "Attachments", you can attach a file from your local computer or from Resources, or specify the URL. Click here for step-by-step instructions on adding attachments. (Opens in a new browser window.)

6. To embed video in your item, click the insert-movie icon (a little movie clapper board ) on the text editor and paste the URL for a Flash, Windows Media, QuickTime, or AVI file. Or, you can select the Source button and paste the object embed code into the text field. (Services like YouTube often prominently display the embed code for each video.)

7. To disable forum postings, under "Forum Posting", check the box next to "Lock forum (disable forum postings)".

8. See the section, Controlling access to forums and topics, below, for information about permissions.

9. When you're finished, click one of the following:

- Save Settings & Add Topic: Save your changes and add the topic to your forum. You will need to add a topic so site members can post messages.

- Save Draft: Save your forum as a draft. You'll return to the Forums screen.

- Cancel: Cancel your changes; you'll return to the Forums screen.

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Creating a topic

When you create your forum, you'll need to add at least one topic so site members can post messages.

To add a topic while you're creating your forum, first finish creating the forum, and then click Save Settings & Add Topic.

To add a topic later (i.e., after you've created and saved your forum), go to the Forums screen and find your forum's title. To its right, click New Topic.

Either of the above methods takes you to the Topics Settings screen. From there, you can finish adding your topic. Follow these steps:

1. Next to "Topic Title", enter a title in the text box. This is a required field, and is limited to 75 characters.

2. Next to "Description", you can enter a more in-depth description of the topic, and provide any associated information or resources.

3. To add an attachment, under "Attachments", click Add Attachment. The file selector screen will open. Click here for step-by-step instructions on adding attachments. (Opens in a new browser window.)

4. To disable topic postings, under "Topic Postings", click the radio button next to "Lock Topic (Disable topic postings)". The No radio button is selected by default, allowing site participants to post messages about your forum topic.

5. Under "Availability", choose whether you would like the topic to show immediately or if you would like to specify dates for it to open and close. If you choose the latter, boxes will open where you can add the dates and times.

6. If you would like all conversations marked as read, click the box next to this option.

7. See the section, Controlling access to forums and topics, below, for information about permissions.

8. When you're finished, click one of the following:

- Save: Save your changes.

- Save Draft: Save your forum as a draft. You'll return to the Forums screen.

- Save Settings & Add Topic: Save your changes and add the topic to your forum. You will need to add a topic so site members can post messages.

- Delete Topic: With this button you can delete a topic that's been created.

- Cancel: Cancel your changes; you'll return to the Forums screen.



Are you finding what you're looking for? Please send feedback about this online help guide to ctools-doc-comments@umich.edu Thanks! (For questions about using CTools, send email to ctools-support@umich.edu)


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Controlling access to forums and topics

You can set permissions to control access to forums while you're creating a new forum or topic (see Creating a new forum and Creating a new topic), or when you're editing an existing forum or topic.

Topics inherit permissions changes made to the forum, e.g., if you change a permission in a forum and a topic already exists, the topic's permissions will also change.

You can modify permission levels for participant roles. Additionally, you can create custom permission levels by clicking to enable or disable the following functions. To do so, identify the role for which you would like to assign permissions. In the drop down menu next to the role, choose the permission you would like.

- New Forum: Create a new forum. You can modify this option only via Template Settings.

- New Topic: Create a new topic. You can modify this option only via Template Settings or Forum Settings.

- Start a Conversation: Create a new response to your topic.

- Respond in a conversation: Send responses to a conversation response.

- Change Settings: Change the topic settings.

- Read: Read topic responses.

- Post to Gradebook: Grade responses and add comments. Send grades and comments to Gradebook.

- Mark as Read: Mark messages as read.

- Revise Postings: Use the radio buttons to indicate which postings participants with the permission level can revise (none, their own, or all postings). Forum permission settings will automatically transfer to every topic unless a particular topic's permission setting is changed.



Creating, posting and responding to conversations

You can create one or more conversations. "Conversations" are discussions about a topic. In the Discussion Forums area of the Forums tool, you can post messages about discussion forum topics, and post responses to the forum messages of other participants.

Posting a new conversation

To compose and post a conversation about a discussion forum topic, follow these steps:

1. On the Forums homepage, click the topic under which you'd like to start a conversation.

2. Click Start a New Conversation along the top of the screen. The "Start a Conversation". The Compose Forum Message screen will open.

3. Next to "Title", type the subject (i.e., title) of your message.

4. Under "Message", use the WYSIWYG editor to compose your message.

5. Under "Attachments", you can attach a file from your local computer or from Resources, or specify the URL for a file on the web. Click here for step-by-step instructions on adding attachments. (Opens in a new browser window.)

6. When you're finished:

- To post your message, click Post .
- To cancel your message without saving it, click Cancel.

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Posting a response to a conversation

Note: Depending on your role within the site, and how the forum creator configured permissions, you may or may not be able to post a response to another participant's message.

If you do have permission to compose and post a response to another participant's message, follow these steps:

1. On the Forums homepage, click the title of the desired topic

2. Find and click the subject of the desired message.

3. Click Reply.

4. In the text field next to "Reply Title", give your reply a title.

5. In the text field under "Message", type your reply.

6. Under "Attachments", you can attach a file from your local computer or from Resources, or specify the URL for a file on the web. Click here for step-by-step instructions on adding attachments. (Opens in a new browser window.)

7. When you're finished:

- To post your message, click Post.
- To cancel your message without saving it, click Cancel.

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Grading responses in forums

Note: Before following these directions you must first create an assignment in the Gradebook.

To grade a response in Discussion Forums, follow these steps:

1. In your site's menubar, click Forums.

2. Under " Forums", click the title of the desired topic.

3. Click Grading and Statistics along the top of the window.

4. Click Grade.

5. Enter a point value for a grade, and then use the drop-down list to select the assignment for which you're posting the grade.

6. To send feedback, next to "Comments", compose a message in the text box, and then click Send Notification. This will send a message, including the grade and your comments, to the student's Private Messages Area.

Note: The comment text box has a maximum limit of 255 characters. If you write a longer comment, the recipient will receive a truncated version.

7. When you're finished, click Submit Grade.



Setting forum preferences for email notifications

You can specify if you are to be alerted via email when there is activity in forums you are participating in. Go to the main page in the Forums, click on Watch and select one of the following choices:

- Notify me by email whenever a new message is posted
- Notify me by email when a thread that I have contributed to receives a new message
- No notification

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Are you finding what you're looking for? Please send feedback about this online help guide to ctools-doc-comments@umich.edu Thanks! (For questions about using CTools, send email to ctools-support@umich.edu)