Facilitate evaluation with Moodle forums

Moodle Academy examines scenarios on using the Moodle Forums, a discussion board activity, for summative and formative assessment

Anna Krassa, educational advisor at Moodle Academy

In a previous blog, we looked at how Moodle’s assignment activities provided many opportunities for summative and formative assessment. This month, we’re taking a look at another Moodle activity that allows for both summative and formative assessment: the Moodle Forums.

The Forum activity in Moodle is a communication and collaboration tool that allows learners and educators to exchange ideas by posting comments in a discussion thread. Moodle forums are easy to set up and the different types of forums and their settings can be combined to provide very different learning experiences. In this blog, we’ll go over three different scenarios: one for a higher education institution, one for elementary school, and one for workplace learning.

Scenario 1: Using a forum for summative or formative assessment in a flipped classroom

In this scenario, we are in a college where the physics course is offered online. The teacher wants to implement a flipped classroom method, where learners have to do their own research and then explain their findings in the forum.

Moodle forum type: Each person posts a discussion (you can read more about the types of forums in this past blog)

Forum settings: the teacher sets the due and closing dates, allows forum posts to contain at least 3 attachments and configures a number of words. They also set completion criteria so that when a student starts a discussion, the activity is automatically marked as “Completed.” And finally, the teacher defines a rating scale from 1 to 10. In the description of the activity, the teacher gives details of what he expects from the students.

The learning experience: When students access the Forum activity, they can see the due date and completion criteria (to start a discussion), as well as clear instructions on the content they must provide. The word count lets them know if the length of their response is adequate and they can add up to three attachments (images, videos or other) to substantiate their message.

To grade this activity, the teacher can go into each of the discussions, see the content – including the number of words – that the students have provided, and then easily give each submission a grade between 1 and 10. Using this type forum with date restrictions, the teacher guides the learners to act within a time frame and a duration, while giving them the possibility of expressing themselves by various means of expression, either by taking advantage of the ATTO editor, or by allowing attachments. Depending on the learning objectives of the course, this activity could be set up to have an impact on the final score or not.

Scenario 2: Using a forum to motivate young students

In this scenario, an elementary school teacher who uses blended learning in her literature class wants students to share the lessons learned as homework.

Moodle forum type: Simple and unique discussion, where the teacher posts a discussion and students can reply to that single discussion.

Forum settings: the teacher sets the criteria for completing this activity as “students should post only one response” and also sets a custom scale for grading: instead of giving numbers from 1 to 10, the scale custom has only two ratings: “Well done! “And” Well done! This makes it easier for the teacher to give positive feedback to his students and to congratulate them on a job well done.

Learning experience: since students only have to access the forum activity and click on the “Reply” button under their teacher’s message to then provide their response, this offers younger learners a simple and very direct way to end the activity while the teacher offers them quick positive feedback. In this case, the Forum activity is used as a formative evaluation.

Scenario 3: Using a Moodle Forum for Summative Assessment in Workplace Training

In our last scenario, we attend training for a marketing team in a company. The instructor wants to assess the participants on how they will apply what they have learned and must give them a grade for the activity, which counts towards a certificate.

Moodle forum type: Question and answer (where learners must provide an answer about the instructor before they can see other answers)

Forum settings: Instructor sets the forum subscription to “auto”, which means that all participants will receive notifications from this forum by default. As a criterion for considering the activity performed, the instructor asks the participants to make two responses: one at the instructor’s station and then, once they can see the responses of the other participants, another response to a peer from the instructor. Classes. Finally, for the scoring, the teacher allowed scoring on the whole forum with a section containing several criteria that must be evaluated for each of the submissions.

The learning experience: Course participants go to the Forum activity and see their instructor’s message, which they must respond to before they can see someone else’s response, ensuring that their response not be influenced by others. After submitting this first response, participants can view others’ responses and respond to one in order to complete the activity.

When grading, the instructor can see all posts posted by a user, side by side with the grading rubric and mark contributions accordingly.

These 3 scenarios were taken up by our Moodle Academy webinar “Assessment: Exploring Forums”. Register for the Moodle Academy associated course to access the full video recording, which includes two additional scenarios, and to learn more about assessing with the forums.

Harry L. Blanchard