Moodle
  1. Moodle
  2. MDL-39707

Update mod_forum to add additional functionality, and improve accessibility and performance

    Details

    • Type: Epic Epic
    • Status: Open
    • Priority: Critical Critical
    • Resolution: Unresolved
    • Affects Version/s: 2.5, 2.6.1
    • Fix Version/s: FRONTEND
    • Component/s: Forum
    • Labels:
      None
    • Affected Branches:
      MOODLE_25_STABLE, MOODLE_26_STABLE
    • Epic Name:
      Advanced Forums
    • Rank:
      1202

      Description

      Moodlerooms have produced "Advanced Forum" https://moodle.org/plugins/view.php?plugin=mod_hsuforum (it originally started at Humboldt State Uni)

      It extends current Moodle forum code to prove some of the most-requested forum features such a:

      • Anonymous forums: This feature allows students to make an anonymous post to a discussion forum while still receiving credit for their post. Instructors can also read all the posts made, and view how many times a student posted to the forum without knowing which student posted which forum. This feature is useful for sensitive discussions and can be used for anonymous student evaluations.
      • View Posters: This feature gives instructors the ability to view the number of posts, replies, and substantive posts a student has made as well as the content of those posts (even in an anonymous forum).
      • Discussion Sorting: Sorting enables users to view all the posts by one individual within a particular forum. This is especially useful for instructors when grading participation for one or more forums.
      • Discussion Subscription: This feature enables students and faculty to receive e-mail postings related to just one topic, rather than forcing them to subscribe to the entire forum.
      • Simplified Navigation and User Interface: Forums have been improved by reducing the number of clicks of the mouse you have to use to navigate through all posts in a discussion. Additionally, several Forum UI enhancements provide instructors and students with multiple views into a course’s forum discussions. These UI designs are intended to provide the user with a way to view posts and replies quickly compared to the Moodle default view of a forum discussion. Users are also given a variety of new preferences to set a preferred view of an Advanced Forum in all courses.
      • Instructor Post Highlighting: This feature differentiates an instructor’s post from a student's, which makes it easier for students to notice the posts that may be more relevant for them to read.
      • Forum Marking: Forum marking enables instructors to identify posts that need review and have had a substantial impact on the reader or the forum in general.
      • Private Reply: With this feature, instructors can send a private reply to a forum post. This reply is only viewable by the student that made the original post or reply and invisible to the rest of the students. It should be noted that the only way a student knows that a reply is indeed private is that they cannot reply to it.

      This bug is to track the feasibility of porting (some or all) these into standard forum.

        Issue Links

          Issues in Epic

            Activity

            Hide
            Jason Hardin added a comment -

            I am not seeing forum grading as part of the list of features. Advanced forums supports rating and manual grading with simple and advanced grading methods. It requires the use of the activity grader for grading, but the functionality exists in the current code Moodlerooms has but it has been stripped out of the community plugin until the activity grader is incorporated into core.

            Is the fact that the activity grader is not yet in core the reason this feature is not on the list?

            Show
            Jason Hardin added a comment - I am not seeing forum grading as part of the list of features. Advanced forums supports rating and manual grading with simple and advanced grading methods. It requires the use of the activity grader for grading, but the functionality exists in the current code Moodlerooms has but it has been stripped out of the community plugin until the activity grader is incorporated into core. Is the fact that the activity grader is not yet in core the reason this feature is not on the list?
            Hide
            Martin Dougiamas added a comment -

            Basically yeah

            Show
            Martin Dougiamas added a comment - Basically yeah
            Hide
            Jason Hardin added a comment -

            The one other piece of functionality that will need to be considered and reviewed after August is that Advanced forums should have a completely accessible forum display based on Hadi Rangin's design at http://blog.bargirangin.com/2013/03/a-model-for-accessible-lms-discussion.html. i will have a spec for this later this month early next month.

            I actually would add that as a feature too. Multiple forum display options that can be set per user as a preference.

            Show
            Jason Hardin added a comment - The one other piece of functionality that will need to be considered and reviewed after August is that Advanced forums should have a completely accessible forum display based on Hadi Rangin's design at http://blog.bargirangin.com/2013/03/a-model-for-accessible-lms-discussion.html . i will have a spec for this later this month early next month. I actually would add that as a feature too. Multiple forum display options that can be set per user as a preference.
            Hide
            Martin Dougiamas added a comment -

            Jason/Kris ... I'm sure I saw a feature for inline reply somewhere but it's not in the distributed plugin. Is it in a repository somewhere else?

            Show
            Martin Dougiamas added a comment - Jason/Kris ... I'm sure I saw a feature for inline reply somewhere but it's not in the distributed plugin. Is it in a repository somewhere else?
            Hide
            Jason Hardin added a comment -

            Martin, There was a comment about trying to add it. I am looking into partially adding it as part of the accessible display we are working on for August. The version I am working on is not like OU's though in that it would popup in a modal for the accessible view.

            It is not currently part of any of the advanced forum display views. It needs to be added in my opinion to the nested display view to remove the user being redirected to the default discussion display.

            Show
            Jason Hardin added a comment - Martin, There was a comment about trying to add it. I am looking into partially adding it as part of the accessible display we are working on for August. The version I am working on is not like OU's though in that it would popup in a modal for the accessible view. It is not currently part of any of the advanced forum display views. It needs to be added in my opinion to the nested display view to remove the user being redirected to the default discussion display.
            Hide
            Robert Puffer added a comment -

            I am deeply concerned with the suggestion of using Hadi Rangin's design to make forums accessible to the sight-impaired but completely inaccessible to the sighted. I don't see a spec but if this idea got into the wild (like a forum where most Moodlers discuss things) with links to his site I think you'd have an enormous amount of pushback and dare I say many schools beginning to look for an alternative LMS.

            Show
            Robert Puffer added a comment - I am deeply concerned with the suggestion of using Hadi Rangin's design to make forums accessible to the sight-impaired but completely inaccessible to the sighted. I don't see a spec but if this idea got into the wild (like a forum where most Moodlers discuss things) with links to his site I think you'd have an enormous amount of pushback and dare I say many schools beginning to look for an alternative LMS.
            Hide
            Jason Hardin added a comment - - edited

            Robert,
            That is not what the project is doing. The project is using Hadi Rangin's design as a base point to create a new forum display type. Advanced forums is not like Moodle core forums. Advanced forums allows user's to change their forum display to suit their needs. The displays are pluggable to allow for more displays as users want.

            My current spec is 77 pages and I have roughly 75% done, but I see the visual deficiency in Rangin's prototype. There are lots of deficiencies in his prototype. We will be using YUI's tree view which is to my understanding accessible.

            The key here though is that Advanced forums uses multiple display views that a user can choose to view the forum how they want. Check out http://demo2hied.moodlerooms.com/mod/hsuforum/view.php?id=510 to see what I mean about forum display types. The select box to the far right of the add a new topic button

            Show
            Jason Hardin added a comment - - edited Robert, That is not what the project is doing. The project is using Hadi Rangin's design as a base point to create a new forum display type. Advanced forums is not like Moodle core forums. Advanced forums allows user's to change their forum display to suit their needs. The displays are pluggable to allow for more displays as users want. My current spec is 77 pages and I have roughly 75% done, but I see the visual deficiency in Rangin's prototype. There are lots of deficiencies in his prototype. We will be using YUI's tree view which is to my understanding accessible. The key here though is that Advanced forums uses multiple display views that a user can choose to view the forum how they want. Check out http://demo2hied.moodlerooms.com/mod/hsuforum/view.php?id=510 to see what I mean about forum display types. The select box to the far right of the add a new topic button
            Hide
            Mark Pearson added a comment -

            Jason,

            It seems to me that the problem with Hadi Rangin's design is not visual deficiency - it's the design itself. I can't see how this would be addressed by a pluggable skin. Have you looked at OU's Forumng as an alternative design? It seems to me that what is needed is a start from scratch modern forum design rather than bolting on advanced features into the existing forum design. Is this what you're doing? At what point can we take a look at the specification to see what you have planned? And by the way, the link above requires a username and password to reveal anything.

            Show
            Mark Pearson added a comment - Jason, It seems to me that the problem with Hadi Rangin's design is not visual deficiency - it's the design itself. I can't see how this would be addressed by a pluggable skin. Have you looked at OU's Forumng as an alternative design? It seems to me that what is needed is a start from scratch modern forum design rather than bolting on advanced features into the existing forum design. Is this what you're doing? At what point can we take a look at the specification to see what you have planned? And by the way, the link above requires a username and password to reveal anything.
            Hide
            Mark Pearson added a comment - - edited

            Jason,
            BTW, I don't want you to feel that I'm slagging off your efforts. I think the whole Moodle community owes you a debt of gratitude for taking on this work. It takes guts to stick your neck out and take the lead on this, so thanks! I hope that we hacker types can contribute some useful feedback that helps the design to move forward.

            Show
            Mark Pearson added a comment - - edited Jason, BTW, I don't want you to feel that I'm slagging off your efforts. I think the whole Moodle community owes you a debt of gratitude for taking on this work. It takes guts to stick your neck out and take the lead on this, so thanks! I hope that we hacker types can contribute some useful feedback that helps the design to move forward.
            Hide
            Jason Hardin added a comment -

            Mark,
            I have played with Forum NG but not from an accessibility perspective. Forum NG to me had a very Moodle forums feel I didn't get any visual wow from it other than the inline reply.

            I have also played with Hadi's prototype as well. I like Hadi's design from a usability and modern feel stand point. It is simple to jump between regions. It is quick to change discussions without page reloads (modern). It displays minimal information for navigation and maximum information for when I need to listen to the forum posts. When I click on a reply I get the reply and not the whole discussion to wade through. To me though the key is that I don't have to leave the interface and there are very few page reloads.

            Advanced forum uses forum displays to render the main content of the page differently. It has the default Moodle look with tables, a tree view the matches Hadi's discussion navigation and a nested view that uses AJAX to expand and collapse whole discussions without leaving the forum. Each one has different DOM structures and javascript to process how a user interacts with the forums. They are each different views into the same information and provide different user's different benefits. it is very much like different course formats.

            As for the web site. Yes it requires a login the logins are on the from page at http://demo2hied.moodlerooms.com/ I the right hand column. It is a Moodlerooms demo site like demo.moodle.org is. We just have a public demo of Joule there. We should probably also stick them on the login page, something I will add to our todo list internally.

            As for the specification I am looking to complete the draft today. At that point it will be released internally, to the NFB, to a few clients with accessibility departments that have a vested interest in an accessible forum display and to Martin.

            Show
            Jason Hardin added a comment - Mark, I have played with Forum NG but not from an accessibility perspective. Forum NG to me had a very Moodle forums feel I didn't get any visual wow from it other than the inline reply. I have also played with Hadi's prototype as well. I like Hadi's design from a usability and modern feel stand point. It is simple to jump between regions. It is quick to change discussions without page reloads (modern). It displays minimal information for navigation and maximum information for when I need to listen to the forum posts. When I click on a reply I get the reply and not the whole discussion to wade through. To me though the key is that I don't have to leave the interface and there are very few page reloads. Advanced forum uses forum displays to render the main content of the page differently. It has the default Moodle look with tables, a tree view the matches Hadi's discussion navigation and a nested view that uses AJAX to expand and collapse whole discussions without leaving the forum. Each one has different DOM structures and javascript to process how a user interacts with the forums. They are each different views into the same information and provide different user's different benefits. it is very much like different course formats. As for the web site. Yes it requires a login the logins are on the from page at http://demo2hied.moodlerooms.com/ I the right hand column. It is a Moodlerooms demo site like demo.moodle.org is. We just have a public demo of Joule there. We should probably also stick them on the login page, something I will add to our todo list internally. As for the specification I am looking to complete the draft today. At that point it will be released internally, to the NFB, to a few clients with accessibility departments that have a vested interest in an accessible forum display and to Martin.
            Hide
            Mark Pearson added a comment -

            Jason,
            Thanks for this thoughtful reply. Gives a better idea of what you have planned. I like the analogy with Course Formats and I see your point about page refreshes. I'm going to take another look at ForumNG and how it scales (or not).
            Cheers,
            Mark

            Show
            Mark Pearson added a comment - Jason, Thanks for this thoughtful reply. Gives a better idea of what you have planned. I like the analogy with Course Formats and I see your point about page refreshes. I'm going to take another look at ForumNG and how it scales (or not). Cheers, Mark
            Hide
            Jason Hardin added a comment -
            Show
            Jason Hardin added a comment - The specification is now up at http://docs.moodle.org/dev/Advanced_Forums_Accessible_Display_Specification
            Hide
            Derek Chirnside added a comment -

            Just curious.
            Is this item set up as a 'porting' exercise deliberately? Are the advanced forum functionalities tied in in some way with the existing forum? Are we specifically limited to these features in the enhanced existing forum work, or is there scope for other features to be suggested as well?
            Or is it just that the expertise and the planning for these specific features make this an 'easy' to implement job?
            What I'd rather see is a revisit of the desired forum features dialogue, if nothing else to clarify what we could possibly hope for and what not. IMO some key features are not on the table at the moment, and it would be sad if we moved on and didn't at least allow for them in the future.

            -Derek

            Show
            Derek Chirnside added a comment - Just curious. Is this item set up as a 'porting' exercise deliberately? Are the advanced forum functionalities tied in in some way with the existing forum? Are we specifically limited to these features in the enhanced existing forum work, or is there scope for other features to be suggested as well? Or is it just that the expertise and the planning for these specific features make this an 'easy' to implement job? What I'd rather see is a revisit of the desired forum features dialogue, if nothing else to clarify what we could possibly hope for and what not. IMO some key features are not on the table at the moment, and it would be sad if we moved on and didn't at least allow for them in the future. -Derek
            Hide
            Andrew Nicols added a comment -

            Hi Derek,

            At present we're looking at the various feature requests, and pooling them together.
            Many of those feature requests have been implemented in the Advanced Forum module, hence the original title of this issue but it should probably be re-titled.

            Which additional features did you have in mind?

            Andrew

            Show
            Andrew Nicols added a comment - Hi Derek, At present we're looking at the various feature requests, and pooling them together. Many of those feature requests have been implemented in the Advanced Forum module, hence the original title of this issue but it should probably be re-titled. Which additional features did you have in mind? Andrew
            Hide
            Derek Chirnside added a comment -

            Andrew:

            1. Yes, great idea to change the title of this post. maybe "Enhance functionality and appearance of Forums in Core Moodle"
            2. You ask, 'Which additional features?' I just checked: I believe I can add extra items to the "Issues in Epic". Can I add in various other tracker items that relate to forums as a start? Will this be helpful?

            I've had a quick look and I'm not sure all the matters I am interested in are in the tracker (like inline posting as in ForumNG and Draft posts) but there are others that refer to forums that could be here. I know about priorities, difficulties etc fro your point of view. On the other hand there are some issues hanging around that I do not have any interest in, but may be important to others. Here is where we can see trade offs. If more functionality is introduced, it can sometimes solve other problems, just in an unexpected way.

            Next, there are absolutely critical issues (like IMO subscription at the discussion level) where the devil is in the detail and the decisions made in the specific implementation could still not meet the basic needs of a big course and a little course.

            Adding in all the existing tracker items here means we can more clearly figure out the targets we are aiming for, ignore others, and there is some transparency about the process.

            I appreciate the fact that this is receiving attention. Tx.

            -Derek

            Show
            Derek Chirnside added a comment - Andrew: 1. Yes, great idea to change the title of this post. maybe "Enhance functionality and appearance of Forums in Core Moodle" 2. You ask, 'Which additional features?' I just checked: I believe I can add extra items to the "Issues in Epic". Can I add in various other tracker items that relate to forums as a start? Will this be helpful? I've had a quick look and I'm not sure all the matters I am interested in are in the tracker (like inline posting as in ForumNG and Draft posts) but there are others that refer to forums that could be here. I know about priorities, difficulties etc fro your point of view. On the other hand there are some issues hanging around that I do not have any interest in, but may be important to others. Here is where we can see trade offs. If more functionality is introduced, it can sometimes solve other problems, just in an unexpected way. Next, there are absolutely critical issues (like IMO subscription at the discussion level) where the devil is in the detail and the decisions made in the specific implementation could still not meet the basic needs of a big course and a little course. Adding in all the existing tracker items here means we can more clearly figure out the targets we are aiming for, ignore others, and there is some transparency about the process. I appreciate the fact that this is receiving attention. Tx. -Derek
            Hide
            Derek Chirnside added a comment -

            I think I've waited long enough for a reply here. I'm going to trawl through the tracker items to do with forum and add them in here, just so we get the list of items clear. I am aware through that not all will get in, but at least I feel better with having a clearer "do not do now" (or "ever") list than having nothing and the whim of the day,the last whisper from a moot attendee or the chemical rush from the last coffee being the determining factors.

            -Derek

            Show
            Derek Chirnside added a comment - I think I've waited long enough for a reply here. I'm going to trawl through the tracker items to do with forum and add them in here, just so we get the list of items clear. I am aware through that not all will get in, but at least I feel better with having a clearer "do not do now" (or "ever") list than having nothing and the whim of the day,the last whisper from a moot attendee or the chemical rush from the last coffee being the determining factors. -Derek
            Hide
            Derek Chirnside added a comment -

            Just adding in the "Print Friendly" request(s).

            Show
            Derek Chirnside added a comment - Just adding in the "Print Friendly" request(s).
            Hide
            Derek Chirnside added a comment -

            MDL-31860 This is one of the forum grading requests with a medium amount of votes. This is not a trivial question "A good way to improve grading of forums".

            -Derek

            Show
            Derek Chirnside added a comment - MDL-31860 This is one of the forum grading requests with a medium amount of votes. This is not a trivial question "A good way to improve grading of forums". -Derek
            Hide
            Derek Chirnside added a comment -

            Final comment for the day:
            @Andrew. Looking back to the comments from 20 November. Where is this project at? Is anything happening?
            I posted here: https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=254380 where I completely missed the point. I thought Jason was working on stuff for inclusion in Moodle. Now I realise he is just making suggestions.

            -Derek

            Show
            Derek Chirnside added a comment - Final comment for the day: @Andrew. Looking back to the comments from 20 November. Where is this project at? Is anything happening? I posted here: https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=254380 where I completely missed the point. I thought Jason was working on stuff for inclusion in Moodle. Now I realise he is just making suggestions. -Derek

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                  Updated: