What is the Discussions tool?

The Discussions tool allows instructors or site administrators to create an unlimited number of discussion forums, and is integrated closely with other tools such as Lessons, Gradebook, and Resources.

A Forum is a mandatory category or grouping for topics. Topics, which are created within forums, are where participants can post conversations. A Conversation is the thread of messages in which participants post their contributions. By default, conversations can be created by site administrators and students or site members inside of a topic.

Note: A forum with the name of the site and a topic titled "General Discussion" are created by default.

Note: For instructions to add this or any other tool to your site, see How do I add a tool to my site?

Discussions Features

Some of the features in the Discussions tool include:

  • Grading: Interactions can be assigned a point value and sent to the Gradebook with comments.
  • Availability dates: Forums and topics can be released according to specified dates.
  • Moderation: Instructors and site administrators can choose to moderate messages posted to topics.
  • Counts of unread posts at a glance: On your site's Overview page (select Overview on the site's Tool Menu), you can see how many unread messages or posts you have in Discussions. From your Home site, you can see these totals for all sites in which you are enrolled.
  • Email notifications: Using the Watch feature, site members can elect to receive no email notification, notification for all new postings in a site, or notification for responses to conversations they've posted in. The default is to receive no notification.
  • Statistics: Forum statistics are available for site administrators to determine the participation level of individual users. Site administrators can also read all of a particular participant's posts using this feature.
  • Post before reading option: Site administrators can require participants to submit their posts to a topic before they have permission to read the responses of others.
  • Group awareness: Site administrators can change Forum Settings and Topic Settings in combination with predefined groups to allow or deny access to specific discussions per group.
  • Direct link to specific forums or topics: Using the Rich-Text Editor, site administrators can link from other tools to individual forums or topics.
  • Composing messages: The Rich-Text Editor allows you to enter text and include links or embedded media in your posts. You can add attachments to any message by uploading files or linking to items in Resources.
  • Quoted text: Use the Insert Original Text option to insert the previous post into your response.
  • Email the author of a message: Site administrators can directly email the author of a posting from within the Forums tool.

To access this tool, select Discussions from the Tool Menu in your site.