Discussions

The Discussions tool is a collaboration area for you and your students. You can set up discussions to allow students to post, read and reply to messages on different topics, share thoughts about course materials, ask questions, share files, or work with their peers on assignments and homework. To access the discussions tool click the Connect menu on your course navbar and select Discussions.

Types of Discussions

  • Discussion Forums and Topics with no restrictions are visible to all users in a course.

  • Group Discussions are Forums with Topics restricted to groups within your course. Group Discussions can also be created when you create your groups, these topics will automatically be restricted to the corresponding groups. For more information on creating Group Discussions from the Groups area of the course please see the Groups documentation.

  • Moderated Discussion Forums require all messages to be approved by the instructor/teaching assistant before they will be visible to other members of the course.

  • Post First Discussions are Discussions that are not visible to students until after the student has posted to the discussion.

  • Anonymous Discussions are Discussions that do not identify the poster of the message.

Creating a Discussion

Before you create a discussion topic you must create at least one Discussion Forum. You can use forums to organize your discussion topics into categories.

Your course can include as many topics as you like, organized into forums. Topics are where discussions actually take place, where users post and read messages, but each topic must belong to a forum.

Before you create a Discussion Forum and associated Topics you may want to consider the type of Discussion Forum and Topic that will best suit the needs of your course. See Types of Discussions for more information.

Create a New Forum

  1. Select Connect from the course navbar.

  2. Select Discussions.

  3. Click the New button and select New Forum from the drop-down menu.

  4. Enter a Title for the forum.

  5. If you want to automatically create a topic, select the Create a new topic in this forum with the same title check box.

  6. If you want to create a description, enter it in the Description field.

  7. Set any forum options you want

    • Allow anonymous posts - selecting this option allows users to post anonymously to the topic. Anonymous posts display with the author "Anonymous" in the thread. Users will have the option to post anonymously or not.

    • A moderator must approve before being displayed - Selecting this option will require a moderator to approve posts in this topic before they display to users.

    • Users must start a thread before participating in the topic - Selecting this option will require a user to start a new thread in the topic before viewing or replying to other threads in the topic. If this topic requires post approval, users will not be able to view or reply to other threads until their thread is approved.

    • Display forum description in topics - Selecting this option will display the forum's description in addition to the topic description when viewing a topic.

  8. Click SaveSave and Close to save the forum, or Save & Add Topic to save the forum and create a new topic within it.

Creating a New Topic

  1. Select Connect from the course navbar.

  2. Select Discussions.

  3. On the Discussions List page, select the down arrow to the right of the Discussion Forum Title and select Add Topic

  4. Enter a Title for the Topic

  5. Select the appropriate options for the type of discussion you are creating.

    • Allow anonymous posts - selecting this option allows users to post anonymously to the topic. Anonymous posts display with the author "Anonymous" in the thread. Users will have the option to post anonymously or not.

    • A moderator must approve before being displayed - Selecting this option will require a moderator to approve posts in this topic before they display to users.

    • Users must start a thread before participating in the topic - Selecting this option will require a user to start a new thread in the topic before viewing or replying to other threads in the topic. If this topic requires post approval, users will not be able to view or reply to other threads until their thread is approved.

  6. Select the appropriate Rate Settings for the type of discussion you are creating. The Rate Posts function allows users with the appropriate permissions to rate discussion posts. You can change the rating scheme at any time. Reverting back to a previously used scheme will restore its former ratings.

    • Five-Star Rating Scheme allows users to assign each post a score out of five.

    • Up Vote/Down Vote Rating Scheme allows users to increase or decrease a post's rating.

    • Up Vote Only Rating Scheme allows users to increase a post's rating.

    • No Ratings hides all rating controls from users.

  7. Select the Restrictions tab and set your Topic Availability, Locking options, Release Conditions, and Group and Selection Restrictions. See the documentation on Release Conditions for detailed information.

     

  8. Select the Assessments tab to associate the topic with a grade item, score posts, and add a rubric.

    • To grade a discussion topic it must be associated with a grade item. See Grading Forums and Topics below for detailed information.

    • Score Out Of allows you to add a denominator value for the topic score so when assessing discussion posts you will be able to assign users with a score out of the value you enter.

    • To add a rubric click Add rubric and select Create Rubric in New Window if you want to use a new one, or select Add Existing if you would like to use one that was previously created. For more information about rubrics see the Rubrics documentation.

    • Selecting Allow assessment of individual posts allows you to assess posts in the topic. Each user's topic score is calculated using the method selected from the Calculation drop-down list.

  9. Click Save to save the topic, Save and New to save the topic and create another one, or Save and Close.

Copying Forums or Topics

  1. Select Connect from the course navbar.

  2. Select Discussions.

  3. Click the More Actions button and select Copy from the drop-down menu.

  4. From the Copy Forums and Topics page, select either Copy a Forum or Copy a Topic.

  5. If you select Copy a Forum

    1. Select the Forum you would like to copy from the Forum to Copy drop-down menu.

    2. Enter the Title of the New Forum, select the Copy topics checkbox if you are also copying the Topics associated with the Forum.

    3. If you have pinned a message to any of the Topics you are copying, select Copy pinned threads.

    4. Click Copy.

  6. If you select Copy a Topic

    1. Select the Forum that contains the topic to create a copy of from the Forum to Copy drop-down menu

    2. Select the Topic you would like to copy from the Topic to Copy drop-down menu.

    3. Enter the New Topic Title and select the Destination Forum that you want the topic associated with.

    4. If you have pinned a message to any of the Topics you are copying, select Copy pinned threads.

    5. Click Copy.

Reordering Forums and Topics

  1. Select Connect from the course navbar.

  2. Select Discussions.

  3. Click the More Actions button and select Reorder from the drop-down menu.

  4. Change the corresponding order in the Sort Order to determine the new order of the Forums and Topics.

  5. Click Save.

Restricting Forums and Topics

There are many options and criteria that can be used to restrict a Discussion Forum and/or Topic. For more information on these options please see the Release Conditions documentation.

Deleting Forums and Topics

All messages associated with the Forum or Topic you are deleting will also be deleted.

  1. Select Connect from the course navbar.

  2. Select Discussions.

  3. Click the down arrow to the right of the Forum or Topic title and select Delete from the drop-down menu.

  4. Click Yes in the pop-up window to confirm the deletion.

     

Restoring deleted Forums or Topics

  1. Select Connect from the course navbar.

  2. Select Discussions.

  3. Click the More Actions button and select Restore from the drop-down menu.

  4. You will be taken to a page with a list of all the Forums and Topics that have been deleted from the course.

  5. Click the Restore button to the right of the Forum or Topic that you would like to restore.

     

Grading Forums and Topics

To grade a Discussion Topic you must first associate the topic with a Grade item. For more information on creating Grade items see the Grades documentation.

Associating a Discussion Topic with a Grade Item

  1. Click Connect from the course navbar.

  2. Select Discussions.

  3. Click the down arrow beside the Topic you want to associate with a Grade Item.

  4. Click Edit Topic.

  5. Select the Assessment tab.

  6. Click Save and Close, Save and New, or Save.

Assessing a Discussion Post

Below the Discussion Topic Title, you will see an icon of a Rosette. This indicates topics that can be assessed.

  1. Click Connect from the course navbar.

  2. Select Discussions.

  3. Click the down arrow beside the Topic you want to assess and select Assess Topic.

  4. Click on the Assessments tab.

  5. Select the name of the student you want to assess.

  6. This will open a new window where you can enter a Topic Score and any Feedback.

  7. If you want the score and feedback to be available immediately, click the Publish button, or to publish all feedback later, click the Save Draft button. This will save the assessment and return to the Assess topic page.

  8. To publish the Topic scores and Feedback for all students, select Publish All Feedback and click Save and Close.

     

Composing, Reading, Replying and Deleting Messages

Composing Messages

  1. Click Connect from the course navbar.

  2. Select Discussions.

  3. From the Discussions list page, click the Topic title of the Topic that you would like to post to.

  4. Click the Start a New Thread button.

  5. A compose window will open where you can add the subject line of your message and compose your message. Click the arrow to the left of Add attachments to upload a file, record audio, or record video. If this message is important and you want it to remain at the top of the Discussion Topic list you can select Pin Thread to keep it at the top and subscribe to this thread.

  6. Click Post.

Reading Threads

  1. Click Connect from the course navbar.

  2. Select Discussions.

  3. Click the title of the Discussion Topic you want to read.

  4. The Discussion Topic will show you the messages that have been posted. If the full message is not displaying on your screen, click the down arrow beside more in the message window.

  5. Depending on the Discussion Topic View you have set, you will see the option to Mark individual messages as Read or Mark all Read.

Replying to Messages

  1. Click Connect from the course navbar.

  2. Select Discussions.

  3. Click the title of the Discussion Topic you want to reply to.

  4. Select the message you want to reply to by clicking the Reply to Thread button.

  5. A compose window will open where you can add the subject line of your message and compose your message. Click the arrow to the left of Add attachments to upload a file, record audio, or record video.

  6. Click Post to add the reply.

Deleting Messages

You delete messages posted by yourself and other users.

  1. Click Connect from the course navbar.

  2. Select Discussions.

  3. Click the title of the Discussion Topic that the message you want to delete is in.

  4. Click the down arrow to the right of the thread or reply you want to delete and select Delete Thread or Delete Post.

Subscribing to Forums and Topics

  1. Click Connect from the course navbar.

  2. Select Discussions.

  3. Select the down arrow to the right of the Forum or Topic and select Subscribe.

  4. A new window will open allowing you to set your notification. From this window, you can determine the notification method by choosing either to include the notifications for this Topic in your mini bar onlysummary of activity or as an Instant notification.

  5. Click Subscribe.

Discussion Settings

For more information regarding Discussion and other Account settings please see the Account Settings documentation.

Need help?

Contact LEARNhelp at learnhelp@uwaterloo.ca or 519-888-4567 ext. 41744 for assistance.

Article Feedback

If you’d like to share any feedback about this article, contact LEARNhelp at learnhelp@uwaterloo.ca.