An interesting ‘modern looking’ discussion forum that can be embedded in NILE. It has been used in the ILOOC MOOC and for an online marketing module at NBS. It does require participants to register with an email address to post comments, but students could use a ‘disposible’ email account from Google, Yahoo or Microsoft to protect themselves from spam if they wish. We have never been spammed so far though.
From version v1.1.12 (June 2014) it is now possible to create ‘closed’ groups, though you will have to administer them. This may be appropriate for more sensitive subjects that may attract trolls. And, though distinctly geeky, activities (logging in, posting, etc.) can trigger an event which will post data to another web site. This could be a Google spreadsheet programmed to email you or update an RSS feed. See Data Services for Learning for more ideas or this Muut blog entry for more information on v1.12.