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Keeping Up in Moodle with Forum Subscriptions & Email Digest Settings

By October 8, 2018 No Comments

Many courses in Moodle use Forums as a way to encourage interaction and collaboration among learners. There are a number of different subscription and email digest settings. This makes it easy for learners to make sure they’re keeping up with important course announcements and forum conversations. Here’s how…

When an instructor creates a forum in Moodle they have two set up options: a forced subscription or optional subscription. 

Forced subscription means students receive notifications for every post made to that discussion. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they will get the updates, as each user has the ability to adjust their forum notification email digest type. Instructors should be aware that users have more than one way of controlling these notifications.

Forum Notification Email Digest Types

There are 3 digest types that affect when and how often a user will receive email notifications. This can be set up at the user account preferences level or overridden at the course level for individual forums. The 3 types are “No digest”, “Complete” and “Subjects.”

  • No digest means users will receive an email notification for each post made to a forum they are subscribed to.
  • Complete means they will get one email at the end of the day that contains all the posts made to forums they are subscribed to.
  • Subjects mean they will get one email at the end of the day that contains all the subject lines of the posts made to forums they are subscribed to.

The user can set their default digest type by clicking on “Preferences” in the user menu and then “Forum preferences.”

Changing Your Digest Type

Subscribed to a forum but want to switch the digest type? Users can override their default digest type at the course level by going to the Forum overview page within the course. To get here, they would just open the course and click on “Forums” in the activities block.

They can then update their digest preferences by clicking on the pencil icon next to the forum they want to change the type for.


This can be beneficial if you have your default digest type set to No digest. With it set this way, you will get real-time email notifications of forum posts which is good for important forums. However, if you are “forced” subscribed to a less important forum, your email inbox can quickly fill with posts you don’t need to see right away. As a result, you could potentially miss important forum posts from a course Announcements forum, for example. To prevent this, simply change the digest type for the forum that is spamming you to either the “Complete” or “Subjects” digest type.

The last way a user has control over the forum email notifications is from their account’s Message notification page. From this page, users can actually turn off all email notifications from subscribed posts. We often check this first when troubleshooting why a user is not getting the emails to begin with.

What we recommend…

We typically recommend you configure site-wide defaults so all users’ email digest type set to “No digest,” “Do not auto-subscribe me to forums I post to,” and “Yes highlight new posts.” We also recommend instructors leave all forums set to optional subscriptions.

By default, the course’s Announcements forum will already be a forced subscription. With these default settings in place, a user will get real-time email notifications of posts made to the course announcements. They then have the option to subscribe to any other forum they would like to get email notifications from. As they see fit, they can adjust the digest type for those forums.

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For more on Forums, check out “Creating an Interactive Classroom Culture with Moodle Forums.”

Questions concerning using Forums in Moodle?

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