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Moodle Quick Help Guide

Using forums with groups

Like other Moodle activities, you can restrict access to a forum to a subset of students in your class by using groups. You also assign an forum to a subset of groups by using groupings. Groups and Groupings, though they sound similar, allow different functions for activities like the forum. Using groups and groupings with forums expands the possibilities for how you can use the activity. You can . . .  
  • Create separate forums and restrict access to each to specific subsets of students. Useful if, for example, you're using one Moodle course site for two sections of a course and wish to have completely separate forums for each section. With a group of students, you may Use Restrict Access to Assign an Activity to Groups and with a grouping of students you may Assign an Activity to a Grouping.
  • Create a single forum, allowing access to some topics within the forum to certain groups while making other topics available to all groups. This method allows you to use one forum with multiple groups instead of creating separate forums for each group. This method also requires that a grouping must be made containing all of the groups you wish to have access to this forum. See Moodle 3.0, 3.2: Hold Small Group Discussions (Forum)
  • Have your students keep private journals. You may do this by:
  1. Creating groups of one for each student, then creating a forum for each student and restricting it to their group. Only the instructor and student will see the student's private journal. See Set Up Student Journals in Moodle (note: MHC's Moodle isn't configured to automatically create one person groups named for individual students in a course site, so you'll need to do that part manually).
  2. Restricting access to a forum to a single student. No one else will be able to view the entries or make changes and the student will be able to post as many topics/entries as they need to. They will also be able to edit and delete these posts as needed. Only the instructor will see all of the forums, individual students will only see the forum to which they have access. An added benefit to this option is that the instructor will be able to download all of the posts as one document IF students are directed to 'Start a discussion' the first time they post and the to 'Reply' to that initial parent post each subsequent time they submit a post/assignment.

Step #1

Create a Forum as specified here. At the bottom of the page for Add a Forum, there is a tab to 'Restrict Access'. Click on this option to open up more options.

Step #2

Clicking on 'Restrict Access' will open up this dialogue box. Click on User Profile. This will allow you to restrict access to a single student.

Step #3

Clicking on 'User Profile' will lead you to this set of options. Make sure that 'Email address' is selected under 'User Profile Field' and that the second field is 'contains', NOT 'equal to'. In the third space, you may enter the student's email username and click 'Save and return to course'.

Please note that this method requires that you make a Forum for each student.


Another extremely helpful document to consult when setting up a forum using groupings is Using Groups with Moodle Forums. It offers a clear explanation of how the Common module setting options of "Separate Groups" vs "Visible Groups" affect the use of Moodle forums so you can choose the option that will work best for your purposes.

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