Sakai Forums tool: Requiring students to first post a message before they take part in discussion

There is not really a no-brainer way to do this, but there is a work-around that comes from Jim Mezzanotte in a Sakai user forum. Read on if you are interested.

girl at computer

As an instructor, you may want students to post an initial message for a specific topic in a forum before they will be able to participate in discussions. The Forums tool does not let you set such a requirement, but there is an effective workaround that involves creating a special group for your site.

Note: Keep in mind that you will need to move students to this group after reviewing their first posts, in order to give them full rights to read and post in all forums.

First, go to your site and select the Site Editor tool. Then, follow these steps:

From the tool menu bar, click on Manage Groups.

Click Create New Group.

In the Title field, enter an appropriate name. In this case, let’s use “Forum Participants.”

Click Add. Under “Group List,” the CLE will display the new group, along with “0″ in the “Size” column.

Except for the one topic for which you want students to first post a message, you must now limit student access to all other topics and forums. At the same time, you must grant the appropriate permissions for the new “Forum Participants” group you have created. To do so, select the Forums tool. For each existing topic, follow these steps:

Click on the Topic Settings link for the topic. The CLE displays the Topic Settings page.

In the Permissions section, select Student from the “this site role” dropdown menu and then select None from the “gets this permission level” dropdown menu.

In this same section, select Forum Participants from the “this site role” dropdown menu and then select Contributor from the “gets this permission level” dropdown menu.

Click Save.

To specify these permissions for all new forums and topics you create, click on Template Settings in the tool menubar. Then, follow steps 2-4.

Next, find the topic for which you want students to first post a message. You must specify custom permissions for this topic. To do so, follow these steps:

Click on the Topic Settings link for the topic. The CLE displays the Topic Settings page.

In the Permissions section, select Student from the “this site role” dropdown menu and then select Custom from the “gets this permission level” drop down menu.

From the list of permissions, click only the New Response checkbox. Make sure that you have also clicked the None checkbox for “Edit Postings” and “Delete Postings.”

Click Save.

All students will be able to post a message for the one topic for which the student role has the “New Response” permission. Students will not be able to see any posts from other site participants, however, and they will also not see any other forums or topics.

Once a student has posted a first message, you can use the Manage Groups function in the Site Editor to add that student to the “Forum Participants” group. The student will then have access to all other forums and topics.

–appeared in ‘Sakai CLE General Usage and Tools’ forum on 1/6/12.

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