forumA forum is an online resource for the open exchange of ideas; but it isn’t an intuitive part of WordPress. Yes, users can leave comments on your WordPress pages or posts. You can also give users access to your site so they can add posts themselves; but this involves some training and has some real limitations.

So along comes the WordPress plugin bbPress that sets up a forum on your site where, without any training, a registered user can create a topic and other registered users can add comments. A real online discussion can ensue. All the while you, as the site administrator, have overall control of the process.

bbPress would be a great match for classroom Web sites bringing students and/or parents together around homework, projects or events. Or image subgroups like ELD teachers or elementary math teachers or school secretaries, groups that are difficult to bring together face-to-face, having a real place to talk.

Setting up a forum is pretty straight forward. You’ll see Forum on your Bethel Blogs Dashboard (Forums for Bethel District Web sites are coming soon). Put your mouse over Forums and select New Forum. Give the forum a name and in the edit window enter a description for what you’d like discussed. Click on Publish. Now copy the address for the forum from above the edit window or view the forum and then copy the address. Finally create a link on you site using the forum address.

Anyone can view the content of the forum, but only registered users can create topics and make comments. You can make a forum private, but that’s a subject for another Tip of the Week post.

We’re setting up a bbPress forum on the new Smart Board site for the 16 Bethel teachers with the donated interactive whiteboards. Stop by the site and see how we’re doing and get a first hand look at how it all works.

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