Who is this for? staff who are responsible for setting up and using communication and collaborative tools on Moodle.

Moodle roles required: Some aspects can be carried out by non-editing teachers but for the most part you will need to have Teacher (Editor) access see Moodle roles at LSE.

Moodle provides a range of different communication tools, the most common of which are covered in the guides here:

  1. Announcements to notify students of key events
  2. Discussion forums for varied purposes
  3. Quickmail to send group and individual emails to students
  4. Calendar to publicise key dates e.g. assignment deadlines

Guidance on the use of collaborative tools such as the Moodle wiki, Etherpad Lite and OU blog is also included here.

You might like to adapt some of the following:

  • No ‘flaming’ – in other words, avoid personal attacks, pettiness, abuse. Respect other users, and if you disagree with them, explain why.
  • No ‘trolling’ – trolls are posts deliberately designed to provoke an angry response. That doesn’t mean you can’t be controversial, if you really mean it.
  • No personal disputes – if it gets personal, take it offline.
  • Don’t be patronising or sarcastic. It comes across about ten times worse online.
  • Avoid typing in ALL CAPS, which is considered shouting or yelling.
  • Learn to let go – don’t keep harping on about the same thing, or harking back to previous arguments. It is rarely productive, and you always end up going round in circles.
  • If someone else’s post offends you, don’t fight back online. It can be easy to sound rude without meaning to, especially if English is not your native language. However, if you really are troubled by the post, don’t respond – take it to your lecturer instead.
You may want to provide an indication of the length of post that students should aim for. You could model this by making the first post. You may also want to set deadlines for posting if that is appropriate.  Other factors to include might be reminders to:

  • Post in the most appropriate forum
  • Stay on topic.
  • Don’t start a new topic if your post relates to an existing one – reply to the existing thread instead. Make sure you reply to the appropriate post, not just the last post in the thread
  • When starting a new topic, make the subject line clear and informative. It makes the topic easy to find.
  • Try to write full sentences and avoid text-speak or slang.
  • If asking a question, provide as much information as possible, what you’ve already considered, where you’ve already read etc.
  • Read what’s already there before posting. You may be repeating what others have already said or asked.

In most cases some form of moderation will be necessary but it needn’t be excessive. The important thing is to state it at the outset so students don’t have overly high expectations. As moderator you may need to:

  • Make timely posts. However don’t rush to post as students need to be given time to develop their ideas.
  • Redirect discussions if necessary
  • Provide summaries of more complex discussions
Make sure everyone is clear on the purpose of each forum and be ready to intervene in a timely fashion if students start posting in the wrong place. Moodle provides a way of moving threads to different forums.

Do this whenever possible to provide a less intimidating environment and maximise participation.
An icebreaker at the outset can serve the dual purpose of familiarising them with the mechanics of forums as well as helping them to bond with their peers.

How to avoid message overload

You can do this by using email digests, or controlling how you receive messages.

  1. In the Settings block click on My profile settings, then Edit Profile.
  2. Go to Email digest type and choose Complete. You will now get just one email per forum per day, at about 2am, containing all of the previous day’s forum postings.
  3. Also under My profile settings, click on Messaging. This gives you a range of options for controlling whether or not you receive different messages as emails or not.