Student LMS Orientation

Communication: Discussion Forums and Messaging

Upon completion of this module, you will be able to participate in various communication tools in the online classroom.

Discussion Forums

The Discussion Forum is an asynchronous communication tool, meaning the discussion is not limited to a narrow time period such as 7:30-8:30 PM on March 15, but occurs over a longer period of time, usually several days or longer.

Generally there will be an Ice Breaker discussion forum at the beginning of your course, with a set of questions for you to answer and some interactive requirements for you to undertake with your fellow students. You will be asked to post responses to the questions and respond to your classmates.

To open the discussion for any week, click on the Discussion Forum link in the current week.

You will be taken to the Discussion Forum for the week, where the summary information will be displayed and the questions set up for you to reply to.

Click on the selected question or thread as it may be called.

By clicking on the "Reply" link at the bottom of the thread, you will then be able to respond to the question. Your response screen may allow for uploads of files which you may have prepared in support or response to the question, if the instructor permits this. Please note also that some instructors may ask you to create your own thread or question rather than reply to one that has already been established.

You may choose to prepare your responses offline in Word or another editor and simply copy and paste your responses into the forum. Don't forget to save any work as you go, as computer systems and online systems do have a habit of sometimes closing or shutting down without notice--and we have all had experiences of having to re-do work as a result.

NOTE: Copies of postings to the discussion forums in which you are involved may be sent to your email address. You can turn this option off in your profile settings, but then you will not be reminded of any responses that you may need to actually reply to. If the number of emails from your course is a problem, set up a filter in your email application and redirect these emails to a dedicated folder or mailbox, which you check regularly.


Practice Posting to a Forum on the Online Familiarization Course

Moodle Messaging

New messages are highlighted with a number in the messaging menu at the top of the screen:

Messages may be sent from a number of locations:

    1. by clicking 'New Message' from the Message menu as in the screenshot above and then searching for a user or course
    2. by clicking the Messages link in the user menu;
    3. by clicking on a user's name or picture in a course, for example from the Participants link or in a forum thread.

For more information on Moodle Messaging you may view the video below.


The News Forum, sometimes called Announcements, is an important way for your instructor to share information with you. Messages added by the instructor to the News Forum may also be sent to your college e-mail account. Students are responsible for the information posted in the Announcements whether they read it or not.

The News Forum is a special forum for general announcements. A course may only have one News Forum. This forum is automatically created for each course and is located on the main course page. By default, it is placed in the top of the center section and only instructors and administrators may add posts or reply to posts.

Appropriate Behavior for Messaging and Forum Participation

Please help us maintain an atmosphere that is conducive for learning:

  1. Address your classmates and instructors by name in course communication (such as e-mails, discussions posts). For example: "Hi Ms. Smith, I have a question" . . . or "Tamika, I like your answer to that question." This shows that you recognize the person at the other end of the communication.
  2. Assume that your instructor prefers to be referred to in more formal terms, unless told otherwise (i.e., Professor Smith, Mrs. Jones, Mr. Davis). 
  3. Remember to identify yourself and the specific course you are taking in the e-mail subject line, so your instructor can relate your question to a specific person and class.
  4. Do not post anything illegal, harassing, sexually suggestive, or inflammatory on your personal profile, blog, or the course discussion boards. This includes posting racy photos and using curse words, no matter how "mild,” and religious, racial, sexual, or ethnic epithets. Your comments should relate to course content and not try to influence your classmates to your political, social, or religious beliefs or values. These are academic courses, not social networking sites. If instructors see something that they think might offend others, they might remove it or ask you to remove it. If you aren't sure about something, talk to your instructor about it. The instructor will be happy to help you determine if something is appropriate or not before you post it. Repeat offenses may result in further disciplinary action.
  5. Follow the rules and conventions of standard English; use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. This makes communication clear for everyone. Avoid use of text speak such as LOL or emoticons. Proofread carefully before submitting anything.
  6. Demonstrate an awareness of purpose and audience. Show respect for the academic environment and those from other backgrounds. For example, if you have a question about a grade, ask your instructor about it rather than make demands or threats. Think about what you want from your instructor or your classmates before you send an angry e-mail or make an angry discussion post.
  7. Use normal capitalization. Typing in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS is the Internet equivalent of yelling at someone. Don’t do it in e-mail or in the discussion boards. Also typing messages in all lower case makes your message difficult to read.
  8. Discuss personal matters, grades, and policy matters with instructors via e-mail, voice chat, over the phone, or in their offices, not in the course discussion boards. Refrain from posting complaints, rants, or problems about the course or your life in the discussion board. Please consider the topic and the delicate nature of the situation as you choose which medium you plan to use. Some topics are best discussed with a phone call or face-to-face visit.
  9. Do not spam your classmates or instructor with e-mail advertisements or solicitations either through Moodle or their e-mail accounts. Students in this course have the same right to privacy as others. Also, please do not add classmates or instructors to e-mail lists for jokes, horoscopes, religious materials, commercial information, or anything else that does not relate to class work.
  10. Do not allow anyone access to this or any other online course through your account. Make sure you log out when using public computers. Allowing anyone (parents, friends, spouses, etc.) to access the course or see other students' work violates federal privacy laws.
  11. Use your student email account. Students taking online and hybrid courses are required to use their aiu email account. All students are strongly encouraged to use the university email when communicating with instructors and classmates.