Comments appear at the bottom of most FutureLearn steps and work in the same way for educators as they do for learners.
Comments appear by default on all steps except peer review, exercise, quiz and test steps.
A pinned comment is intended to guide overall discussion and highlight what learners should be focusing on within a step.
Comments can be pinned by anyone with Facilitator, Author or Organisation Admin permissions. Learners will see the role of the person who pinned the comment (Educator, Mentor etc), and if there is no role assigned to that person, learners will see ‘Pinned by course team’.
You can pin three comments per step. This is to ensure comments are pinned with rigour and importance in mind. Pinning only three comments enables you to highlight the most important comments within the step, whilst still allowing a free flowing discussion to continue.
To pin a comment, click on the pink pin icon. To unpin a comment, simply click on the blue pin icon.
Liking and Bookmarking comments
Users can like a comment to show their appreciation for another user’s contribution. Perhaps they want to show empathy or agreement with the comment/commenter, or use it as a means of ‘voting’ with other learners to surface a comment. Liking a comment will send a notification to the user who posted the comment.
Users can bookmark comments to remind themselves of certain contributions that they might wish to refer back to at a later stage. Bookmarking a comment does not notify the user who left the comment (or any other users).
You can follow another user by pressing the ‘follow’ button on their profile, or next to any of their comments.
When you follow someone, they are notified by email. As an educator you may get a lot of followers, and therefore a lot of email notifications. You can turn off these notifications under ‘Email Settings’ and ‘Email me when I have a new follower’ on your settings page.
To encourage relevant discussions within threads, particularly amongst multiple participants, learners can mention one another. When replying to a learner, the input field will automatically start with an ‘@’ followed by the learner’s name. For example, if Tom clicks ‘reply’ to a comment posted by Jane, the input field will automatically say @Jane. Alternatively, Tom can simply type @Jane during his reply.
Learners can only mention other learners within a thread and cannot use this functionality in standalone comments.
Filtering and sorting comments
Once you are following some people, you can filter comments on steps so that you see only the conversations those people have been involved with. This is extremely useful for learners to make sense of the large numbers of comments available on most steps. The idea is they can build their own ‘network’ of people they find interesting. It’s also a way for them to easily find the comments that educators make, which is why we recommend that you link to your profiles during the introduction to the course.
You can also filter by Your comments. This works in a similar way to ‘following’, but instead only shows the conversations you have been involved in. This is particularly useful if you have been interacting with lots of learners and wish to find a comment you previously left on a step. You can additionally filter by comments you have bookmarked.
Sorting by ‘most liked’ is one of the most important tools for you as an educator as by using this filter you can see the most-liked individual comments (see above). These might be:
- Thoughtful or insightful individual comments that the community can relate to
- Good or interesting questions that may still need answering
- Really useful answers to questions
- Really good rebuttals to bad questions or provocative comments
‘Most liked’ will also show you threads of comments that have a lot of likes between them. So while one individual comment might not have attracted a lot of likes, there might be a good number if likes spread between replies in an interesting conversation.
The Activity tab gives you an overview of all the most recent comments on a course. This is great for getting a snapshot of what’s happening on your course right now, or has happened since you last logged in, but is not recommended as the primary point of interaction with your learners.
When you get a new reply, ‘like’ or follower, you will see a notification like this at the top-right of the screen:
Clicking on the notification will take you to your notifications feed so you can see who has interacted with you.
In the same way, learners will be notified when you reply to them, follow them or like one of their comments. This means it’s very easy for you to show a learner that you think one of their comments is good in a ‘light touch’ manner. Read more about on-site notifications for learners and for course teams.
You can also change your settings to receive email notifications when another user interacts with you. To avoid overwhelming you with emails you will receive at most one email per day (per course).
Reporting and flagging comments
Any comment can be reported by any user of FutureLearn. All you need to do is press the flag button on the comment. A drop-down menu then appears, where you are prompted to choose the reason why you are reporting the comment.
After reporting a comment, the comment remains visible until it has been reviewed by a FutureLearn moderator. If the moderator finds that the comment broke the FutureLearn Code of Conduct, the comment is removed, and the user is automatically notified by email that their comment has been hidden.
It is also possible to report user profiles in the same manner, via the flag button on their profile page. Use this to report a problem with a user’s picture, username or profile information.
Because this system is reactive, if you are uncertain about a comment, it’s better for you to report it and let a moderator decide what to do, than to leave it up and leave it to chance.
In order to get a direct URL to a specific comment, right-click or ctrl-click (with a mouse) or long-press (on a touch screen device) the timestamp of the comment you wish to link to. The timestamp will be either the date, or for more recent comments, the relative time a comment was posted:
Then copy the URL (e.g. ‘copy link address’) from the menu. When you paste the URL, it should look something like:
This URL can then be used in a number of ways:
- To keep a record of particular comments
- To share a comment internally amongst your team
- To include in course notices (with the learner's permission)
- In other comments on the course, for example to point a learner to a related conversation
The URL will take the user directly to the specific comment, ‘jumping’ to the correct one even in the middle of a long conversation.
You might notice that the URL changes in your address bar once you visit it, e.g.
This is the URL you will normally see in your browser when looking at a particular comment. However, these URLs are not permanent as the number of comments on a page will increase over time and eventually the URL will not point to the same comment, so you should always use the above technique to get the link to a particular comment.