Hi Elizabeth. Yes, I use forum ratings in all required courses. I too use "Sum of ratings" and in my case, set the Maximum grade to 8 (students get 2 points per post, and after making 4 good posts, then achieve the 8 total points.) What students see is 2 (1) at the bottom, and I sometimes have to explain that this means that they have received 2 points from 1 grader (instructor.) Yes, this does work, and yes, if a student happens to make only one post at a point in time (but before they are finished) their grade book shows an F for having made only 1 of the 4 posts. But my students seem to catch on quickly. Yes, under this system, they don't ever see that the 2 points are 100% of what I would ever (normally) provide, but it does provide the ability for me to give 3 or more points for a very exceptional post.
Yes, I too think that forum grading is very useful. The thing that I don't like about the proposed system is that it moves the grading/rating to the right, somewhat out-of-context
with what I have just read. I prefer that the Rating (Grading) be right below the post (as we see it here in these Moodle.org forums). The way that Grading appears to be positioned in the right column seems to move the grading to the right, and out of context of what I have just read. By what method would I know that I am grading one student's particular post? Would I be required to click somewhere on a student's post to then cause the grading to be for that post? The way that the Grading appears right now in the proposed method shows a student name, but what happens if a student makes three posts? Which post is being graded. Or, is there an assumption that the instructor is reading all three posts, and then grading in aggregate? It appears that it would take some effort for me to know which particular post from this student I am grading. So in other words, the proposed right-side grading system seems to make it confusing to know which exact post is being graded.
The mobile issue is not a simple issue. The power of the Boost theme, and Moodle in general, is that one can use Moodle from their smartphone's browser. So the developers cannot ignore this need to keep Moodle "responsive." With the proposed layout, it seems to be assumed that one would never grade forum discussions from a smaller screen! This is a big oversite and (of course, in my opinion) needs to be addressed. And it is not as simple as what is currently done with Boost's right-side column, or the NavDrawer. I don't see anyway of moving the grading area to the bottom of what might be 50-100 posts. Grading has to always be nearby the actual posts.
When you say "I’m not sure any other interface would work any better on a phone-sized screen," my response is "The current forum grading system is a better interface from a smartphone." Yes, I have graded forum discussions from my phone. Grading forum posts is a great use of time when I am traveling in a bus, train, or car (as a passenger, of course.) I can read and grade forum posts whenever I have a cellular connection (which is still more common than a wi-fi connection.)
Maybe what should be looked at is UI that puts this grading right below each post. Yes, it adds clutter. Yes, I would like to control the clutter by disabling the features that I would not use (Rubric, Claim, Organization, Feedback, and Notifications.) I might use the newer "Reply privately" this semester, and I somehow don't see this in the new proposed system, but maybe it will show itself somewhere. I am not sure if "Feeback" is meant to be the equivalent of "Reply," but it seems to me that these are two different things. In the mockup, I don't see a "Reply" button anywhere.
The proposed layout is probably good for those instructors who really aren't interested in reading a student's posts, seeing what they have replied to, seeing the surrounding discussion, and then providing a grade. This proposed system seems to be better for grading an individual's "stand-alone" post. So maybe what we need is a choice "Do you want to use the grading system that grades "in context" or "by the individual?"
Remember (from Wikipedia) "Moodle was originally developed by Martin Dougiamas to help educators create online courses with a focus on interaction and collaborative construction of content.." The current forum tool seems to provide this.