The Forum Activity provides an asynchronous discussion environment for learners, with discussion threads initially created by the teacher.
Forums can be 'locked' as an activity which is only available for the period of the specific activity (ie: no more contributions can be made once the learner clicks 'Finish', or they can be 'unlocked', in that learners can add to the Fourm throughout the life of the whole sequence.
... and Scribe
The Forum and Scribe Activity combines a Forum Activity with a Scribe Activity for collating Forum Postings into a written report. When used in small group mode, the tool creates parallel Forum and Scribe areas for each small group, and then shows the outcome of each group collated on a whole class page.
... and Share Resources
The Share Resources and Forum Activity combines a Forum Activity Activity with a Share Resources Activity which allows Learners to create Forum postings based on resources by provided by the sequence author, or from resources that they add to the activity themselves.
When used in small group mode, the tool creates parallel Forum and Scribe areas for each small group, and then shows the outcome of each group collated on a whole class page.
All properties sheets contain three tabs:
- Basic: Which controls the Content of the Activity.
- Advanced: Which controls the Behaviour of the Activity.
- Instructions: Provides information on the structure of the activity.
The Forum tool supports branching based on conditions.
View of the Forum Basic tab.
The Basic Tab for the Forum Activity allows you to specify a title for the activity, give learners a set of instructions for completing the activity, and create Forum topics to categorize messages:
- Title: All Activities have a web page title which is presented at the top of the activity page when displayed in the Learning Environment. This is NOT the same title as the Title that can be set using the Properties Inspector.
- *Instructions:*All Activities have a text area that is presented beneath the title. This is where the main activity text to be displayed to learners is entered. The text can be formatted using the Rich-Text Editor. Image, Video, Audio and URL content can also be displayed in the Instructions area.
- Specific Feature - Forum Topics
- To create a new Forum Topic, click "+ Create a New Topic". A new text box will open on the properties sheet where you can create the new topic.
- Subject: This is the title of the Forum Topic, and is displayed on the main Forum Screen in the Learning Environment.
- *Body:*This is where the content of the Forum Topic is created. To view the topic body, learners click on the Forum Title in the Learning Environment.
- Attachment: Files such as documents, pictures or audiovisuals can be added to a forum topic for viewing/downloading.
- To change the order in which topics are displayed, use the Green up and down arrows.
- To edit a topic, click the Yellow pencil.
- To delete a topic, click the Red cross.
View of the Forum Advanced tab.
- Lock When Finished: This option is available on all Activities.
- Enabling this option in Forum means that learner's will only be able to contribute and/or edit postings until they click the "Finish" button. If afterwards they return to the Forum, they will only see a history record of the Forum session, and will not be able to create new posts or topics.
- If this option is disabled, the Forum session will be available for contribution and editing until the sequence is stopped by a monitor.
- Allow Learners to Change their own postings: When enabled, this option allows learners to edit postings once they are part of the forum. The default is 'on.'
- Allow Learners to Upload Files: This feature allows learners to add attachments to their forum postings. The default setting is 'on.'
- Allow Learners to use Rich Text Editor: This feature allows learners to add formatting effects to their postings. The default is 'off.'
- *Maximum number of characters per posting:*The length of each individual post to the forum can be limited by using this setting. The default is enabled with 5000 characters.
- *Add Notebook... :*This option is available on all Activities. Enabling this option creates a Notebook as part of the Activity, which Learner's can use to reflect on the activity just completed. The reflections are personal (ie: not shared with other learners).
- Posting Limits: Only one of these options can be enabled for each specific forum.
- Allow Learners to Create New Topics: This allows learners to add new forum topics to the activity. This setting is enabled by default.
- *Number of Posts per Learner per Topic:*This specifies how many postings Learners are permitted to add before they can progress to the next activity. This setting is disabled by default.
View of the Instructions tab. This is the same for all activities.
The Instructions tab contains the same features for all Activities.
It allows the Author to create specific instructions for the activity, as well as upload files that may be useful for running the activity (ie: support documents, etc.). It is a resource that can be used by teachers who are running the sequence for their learners. (In the Monitoring Environment, the Instructions for an Activity can be viewed by double clicking the activity on the Sequence tab and then selecting the Instructions tab.
There are two types of Instruction possible, Offline and Online, depending on the mode that the teacher wishes to run the activity. The feature is useful for teachers who are sharing sequences with their colleagues as it provides an area where the Author can describe any learning objectives and/or the specific purpose of the activity.
Branching Condition for Forum
The Forum tool supports branching based on conditions. No setup is required in Forum - the condition is available automatically for a Tool Output Based Branching Activity if you have a prior Forum activity.
Learner's number of postings in the forum
This condition is based on the total number of posts that a learner/participant had made in a forum. The condition is expressed as a number. For example, if Sally has added two messages to one thread, and one message to another thread in the SAME forum activity, the total number of posts is 3.
So for branching, an author could set up conditions so that all users who have 0 to 5 postings go to one branch, whereas the users who have 6 or more postings go to another branch. The number of postings is checked when the user reaches the branching point so if they go back to the forum later and add more postings, then they will NOT change branches.
Internationalisation key (for translators): output.desc.learner.number.of.posts
View of the Forum Summary Screen.
The Forum Summary screen presents marking features, much like Submit Files. If the activity has been modified by a Grouping activity, the Screen will be seperated into different areas for each group (in the figure, the groups shown are Group 2 and Group 4.)
Monitors can assign a numerical mark to Learner postings either by viewing the Forum (click View Forum) which will allow a mark to be assigned to each individual Learner posting, or by assigning a mark for the entire forum, by clicking Mark.
In order for Learners to be able to view their marks through LAMS, the Monitor must click the _Release Marks" button. Learners will then be able to re-enter the sequence through their own LAMS accounts and view their marks.
View of the Instructions Tab
In the Authoring Environment, Authors can use the Instructions Space to attach support files for a specific activity, or leave comments for othe Monitors about how a given activity should be run.
These comments and files can be viewed from here - the Instructions Tab.
Clicking the Edit Activity button opens a new screen identical to the _'Basic'_tab in the authoring environment. In the current version of LAMS (2.0.4), Editing can only be performed on activities that students have not yet reached.
Unlike Live Edit, this form of Editing can only modify the content of an activity, as opposed to the structure of a sequence.
View of the Forum Statistics Summary Screen.
The Forum Statistics tab displays statistics about the number of messages posted in each Forum, and the Average marks that have been assigned by the Monitor.