Moodle Messaging - How to communicate with course participants via email using Moodle
Moodle has two systems that can be used to send text-based messages to students. The Moodle Messaging tool is commonly misunderstood and confused with the function of the Moodle News Forum tool. Below are descriptions of each and how they can be used to connect with course participants.
The Moodle messaging system is internal to Moodle, ie all messages are sent and received within Moodle. Think of it as Moodle instant messaging. By default, when a user receives a message and they are NOT actively online in Moodle, the message is also sent to the recipient via their configured email address. (Please note that the user does have the option of changing this to not receive messages via email.) Recipients who ARE actively online in Moodle at the time the message is sent, receive an alert that they have a new message and can access the message history via the Messages block in Moodle. Drawbacks to using the Moodle messaging system is the inability to handle attachments and the inconsistency in getting the message delivered to the course participants. This is because this system is designed more as an instant messaging medium rather than an email messaging system. For a more robust application, refer to the News Forum.
The news forum that is pre-configured in each Moodle course can also be used to email students in a particular course and to post class announcements at the same time. By default, this forum is configured to force everyone to be subscribed. Forced subscription means that everyone in the course will receive an email when new messages are posted to the news forum, they do not have a choice in the matter. They can, however, choose (within their profile) to receive forum messages in digest form (grouped together into one email per day), and where Moodle messages get delivered (by configuring their email address.) The news forum allows attachments. For messages directed to the entire class (especially for those messages containing attachments or messages where email delivery is preferred), the news forum is the tool of choice.