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Removing permission for students to start new questions in Moodle Q&A forums

September 28th, 2010

The Q&A forum type in Moodle is a good option for reading reflections or other activities where you want students to individually demonstrate their understanding of some material but also follow that up with class discussion.  Topic threads within a Q&A forum are set up as separate questions.  Anyone in the class can respond to any or all of the questions, but what makes this forum type unique is that students can’t see what other students have posted for answers to a question UNTIL they have posted their answer to the question.  That way, everyone has a clean slate for each of the questions, and their answers aren’t influenced by what other students have posted to the questions.  Each student has to ‘pay to play’; when they provide their answer it allows them into the conversation.

Unfortunately, the default setup for the Q&A forum is for anyone in the class to be able to start new discussion threads, including students.  I often work with faculty on Q&A forums where a student in their class will read question #1, for example, and instead of posting their answer as a follow-up to the question, will post it as a new topic thread.  This has two problems.  Since the student still hasn’t posted an answer to question #1 (by replying to that topic), Moodle doesn’t know to allow them to review other students’ answers to question #1 and allow them to reply.  Also, since their answer to question #1 is posted as a new topic, all students can view that answer before they have posted an answer to question #1.  A more reasonable configuration for Q&A forums would be to not allow students to start new topic threads.  You can do that by setting up a permission override for the Q&A forum where you want to prevent students from starting new topics.

Here are the steps:

  • When you are editing the settings for the Q&A forum, either during the initial setup or later updates, click on the ‘Override permissions’ tab instead of the default ‘Settings’ tab.
  • Click on the ‘Student’ role.
  • Find the ‘Start new discussions’ permission.
  • The default permission for students is ‘Allow’; click on the ‘Prevent’ radio button (third one from the left).
  • Click the ‘Save changes’ button.

You will see on the Override permissions page for that forum that the Student role now has one override.

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