TITANium Resource CenterFrequently Asked Questions ForumsWhich forum type should I use? (includes recommendations & examples)

Which forum type should I use? (includes recommendations & examples)

TITANium offers five forum types.

To choose an effective forum type consider the purpose of the forum, assignment expectations, number of students or groups, and viewing preferences. The more frequently you use forums, the easier it will be to make an effective choice.

Tip: Experiment with different types to learn what works best for specific applications in your courses.

The five types are:

Type: Standard forum for general use

Each new forum will automatically use the default type Standard forum for general use unless proactively changed. Standard forum for general use allows any student or instructor to start a new topic of discussion by clicking the Add a new discussion topic button within the forum.  

The Add a new discussion topic button

All topics are listed in the left-hand column. Additional information on the page includes the person who started the topic, the number of replies, and the name and date of the last post contributed displayed in a table-style format.

list of discussion topics within a forum - 4 columns labeled from left to right: Discussion, Started by, Replies, Last post (name, date, & time)

Readers can click the link to any discussion topic (see screenshot above) to view all the posts made to the topic as well as to add a reply (see screenshot below). This automatic organizing feature is a key benefit of forums.

series of posts displayed when the topic link is clicked

Standard forum for general use is the most commonly used forum type. It is frequently used for both topical discussions and discussions in which an individual student may need to start more than one new thread.

Topical discussions may be conducted as small group or whole class discussions depending on class size and discussion goals. Common assignment instructions require students to post an original response to the instructor’s forum prompt, then read and reply to two of their peer’s posts in a set time frame.

example of a  topical discussion prompt

Standard forum for general use is also frequently used for Support Forums.  This forum type has the advantage of allowing any student to easily pose multiple questions by clicking the Add a new Discussion topic button as often as they need.

example of a Student support forum prompt

Classmates and/or instructor can respond to any student's question. All questions (topics) are visible at a glance, handy for skimming by other students who may have a similar question or wish to provide a solution.

list of discussion topics within a Support forum

As always, the reader clicks a topic (question) link on the main forum page to view the posts to the topic. Readers can also move to the next or prior topic string by clicking the links at the top (or bottom) of the series of posts indicated by forward and backward arrows

click forward-backward navigation links to move between topic strings

Alternatively the reader can return to the main forum screen and click another topic on the list.

example topic list- click topic link to view

Type: Each person posts one discussion

Each person posts one discussion is identical to Standard forum for general use, except that the Add a new discussion topic button will disappear after a student uses it once.  This forum type allows the student to add a single topic to the discussion forum.  Students can still make multiple replies to other topics in the forum. This is useful if instructors wish to control how many topics students can add to the discussion. One useful application is an Introductions forum, in which a student would never need to start more than one topic (their own introduction).  Typically Introductions take place at the start of the semester when students may be less familiar with the tool, this forum type will prevent them from adding more than topic.  Keep in mind they can and should read their peer’s posts and there is no limit to the number of replies they can make to posts.

View the screenshot (below) of the forum prior to the student adding her topic. Note the presence of the Add a new discussion topic button.

Each person posts one - initial display showing the presence of the "Add a new discussion topic" button

View the screenshot (below) of the forum after the student adds her Introduction (topic). Note the absence of the Add a new discussion topic button. The student cannot add any additional topics, however she can read and reply to as many other topics and posts in this forum as she wishes.

Each person posts one - display following addition of single topic by student. The "Add a new dicussion topic" button is absent.

Type: Single simple discussion

In situations where only the briefest reply is required, consider using the Single simple discussion type.  All posts appear in a single long thread saving time navigating and making it easy to skim brief responses. The instructor’s prompt (typed in the Description box as usual during Forum setup) appears as the first and only topic (hence the name single simple).  Students can reply to the instructor’s prompt as well as to each other.

Two use examples for the Single simple discussion type are shown below.

Single simple discussion forum links

When the forum link is clicked in a Single simple discussion all the responses/posts immediately display. Note: Unlike Standard Forum for general use and Each person posts one, no list of topics displays when the link is clicked because there is only a single topic, which the reader sees immediately upon clicking the forum link on the main page. As with all topic threads in TITANium the reader can discern who has replied to whom through the indentation.

List of forum posts displays when a Single simple discussion link is clicked on main page.

Type: Q & A forum

Do you ever wish you could prevent students from seeing their fellow classmates’ posts until they’ve posted their own?  If so, the Q & A forum type offers a solution. The Q & A forum is an excellent choice for topical discussions when originality issues are a concern. Use this forum type, to prevent students from viewing any of their peer’s posts before adding their first post.  

Example of a Q & A forum named "Topic of the Week"

IMPORTANT: Unlike other forum types, the instructor MUST post a topic within the Q & A forum for students to reply to.  A forum can contain one or many topics. When the student clicks the forum link, a banner will display, along with the list of forum topics, alerting the student that they must post before they can view others' contributions.

Q & A - topic list with instructional banner

Until the student replies to the instructor-posted topic prompt, all posts (except the instructor’s) are marked hidden.

View of Q & A forum posts marked "hidden" because the student hasn't posted yet. Only the instructor's post is visible and has a Reply link.

After the standard 30-minute editing period has passed, all classmates' posts and replies will become visible to a student who has posted .

View of Q & A Forum with peer posts now visible as student has posted their own topic.

Type: Standard forum in blog-like format

For learning activities in which a class blog is needed, consider the type named Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format. Though not a true blog, it is the closest option provided within TITANium.  The blog-like format is also used when an instructor wishes to convey an informal atmosphere, for example, a virtual meeting space for student use. Note the different layout. As compared to Standard forum for general use type, the Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format displays as follows:

  • The list of topics is not in a table layout. Visually it is more informal.
  • The first few lines of the message display on the main forum page, rather than just the title.
  • A new link is visible named: Discuss this topic. This invites the reader to participate. It is located below each topic/reply.
  • The number of replies appears in parenthesis following the Discuss this topic link.

Tip: Blog entries made via your Profile are not related to the Discussion Forum. Any profile blog entries are visible to everyone on campus or only yourself (private).  It is not a class blog and therefore not useful for a course.  

Forum Types: Need a reminder of the types available?

When you’re adding a new forum, simply click the gray question mark icon next to the forum type dropdown menu for a brief description of all the forum types.

Inline support window on Forum types. Click the question mark icon to access.

Article Summary

You have learned the differences between the five forum types and been introduced to how they can be effectively used.

Tip: Your choice will be based on various factors including the nature of a given assignment and the number of students.

Read the text in each image for a closer look at effective use.

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