How to Use Groups in a PolyLearn Forum

by Tonia Malone on November 6, 2014


The PolyLearn Forum is a great tool for allowing students to collaborate outside of class. The Forum can extend class time and expand conversations. For those students who need extra time to think or do not like to talk in class, the  online forum space can provide a safe space to share their ideas. To learn more about the Forum, please view the online tutorials on the PolyLearn Support site.

Forums can also be set up for groups. A Group Forum can be viewed by the instructor so that formative feedback can be shared throughout the course. Group Forums can be private for the group’s members or they can be viewed by other groups.

To use groups in PolyLearn, there are settings that need to be turned on within the course:  groups need to be created and then the forum settings can be selected.

1) To Turn on Course Groups:

  1. Click on the Edit settings link in the Administration block.
  2. Click on the Groups arrow to expand the items.
  3. Choose Separate groups.
  4. Scroll down to the bottom and click on the Save changes button.

2) Create Groups:

For steps on creating groups, please see the PolyLearn Support page.

3) Create a Forum:

For full instructions on creating forums, please see the PolyLearn Support page.

  1. Forum type should be “standard forum for general use
  2. Common module settings should be selected from these two choices:
    Separate groups – Each group member can only see their own group, others are invisible
    Visible groups – Each group member works in their own group, but can also see other groups

When the students access the Forum (one for all the groups), they will only be able to write in their own Group Forum and if the Forum is set to “visible” they can see the other groups’ forums as well. Students can also share files and links within a Forum.

When the instructor opens the Forum, he/she can view each group’s Forum via the pull-down list as shown in the figure below:


Forums have many uses, such as:

  • A social space for students to get to know each other
  • For discussing course content or reading materials
  • For continuing to discuss an issue online that had previously been raised in a face-to-face session
  • For teacher-only discussions (using a hidden forum)
  • A help center where tutors and students can give advice
  • A one-on-one support area for private student-teacher communications (using a Forum with separate groups with one student per group)
  • For extension activities (for example:  “brain teasers” for students to ponder and suggest solutions to a problem)

Forum posts can also be rated (graded) by the student’s peers or the instructor. Stay tuned for more information about grading Forums in a future blog post.

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