Some of the folks in the OU's Institute of educational technology are experts on accessibility and assistive technologies.
The regularly review parts of our VLE, and since Forum NG is one of the main tools used by students, it has been reviewed several time, and the accessibility problems fixed.
(IET reviews and testing have also fed into accessibility improvements in core Moodle over the years.)
So, if nothing else, ForumNG is very accessible.
The other area where ForumNG has more features than standard forum (in addition to student-visible features that everyone wants like subscribe to thread) is in the moderation features. Some of our courses are very big, and have very high traffic, and we insist on moderating them, sometime by teams of people. So, for example, when a post is 'deleted' by one moderator, it is actually only hidden, and another moderator could review that decision, and undelete the post. You can also delete any post, even if it has been replied to. You can subscribe to a group in a forum, if you have access to multiple groups and don't want to subscribe to everything.
Another point to make is that a lot of forumNG functionality is implemented using the 'ForumNG feature' sub-plugin type. By default there is a lot of functionality, and if you don't need it all, you could remove some sub-plugins. (Some of the sub-plugins are quite specific to how the OU does things. We recognise that.)
Some interesting comments in here; regarding forumNG, advanced forums, various functionalities, accessibility and usability etc…. All of which bring me back to my original question:
'is there a tangible development plan for the moodle forums?'
Based on the discussion it seems not. But there does seem to be people with ideas, and some with solutions.
So I guess the next question is:
How to move this forward? - should we be looking to simply update the current forum tool with the advancements in forumNG, Advanced forums and other developments or look to build a new tool that takes these factors into account plus adds some best practice functionalities from forum(esq) tools from the web.
PS. We're meeting with Catalyst IT later this week to discuss the technicalities of the 'reading list' functionality, perhaps when we have a technical design we can post here for comment/discussion.
Earlier in this thread I outlined some bookmarking forum post functionality that we we're planning on having developed. To close the loop I thought I would post an update.
We now have the first iteration of this tool live for our participants initial indications seem to show it's going to be useful. I'd be keen to hear if others would find this useful, or how it could be further development enhanced - would it even be useful for core inclusion?
The bookmarks Mark? Did they ever get finished? Are they available as a plugin?
Yes it did - hopefully the demo video higher up in the thread shows it in action. We were really quite pleased with how it works.
I understand the development was a local plugin but did require an additional line into core so I guess would not be a neat plugin. However, my recollection was that if forums implemented renderers then it would be possible to make it a 'clean' plugin.
We did discuss at the time submitting it to core, but, unfortunately i'm not sure if that happened. I've left that role so doubt if I would be able push it any further forward.
However, if it's felt that this could make contact and see if there would be the possibility of this.
Apologizes for my slightly unclear comment.