Discussion Tool Basics

Discussions are a key part of learning for both online and traditional courses.  The online discussion tool allows students to have an online collaborative area to post thoughts, attach files, share materials or links, ask questions, and collaborate with others on assignments.

Note: Within the discussion tool students can see posts and replies made by others enrolled in the course. The discussion forum or topic can be split into groups or assigned to a section of students in a cross listed course. There is also an option to allow students to post anonymously to hide their names. 


Subscribe – A topic or thread can be subscribed to, this allows the user to get notifications each time a reply to a thread or new thread is created. 

The discussion tool is split into 3 different levels:

  • Forum – This is the top level. It provides a way to group common topics together. Students can not do anything with an empty forum. Topics have to be created for students to respond to. 

  • Topic – The topic is what is being discussed. Students reply to the topic by creating threads. Topics have to be assigned to a forum.

  • Thread – When a student posts to a topic they create or start a thread. Other students and the instructor can respond to threads by replying.


  • This is an example of a Forum with 2 topics

Setting up Discussions

  1. Go to Gradable Activities select Discussions

  2. Click the button for New

  3. Select Forum to create a New Forum

  4. On the Forum created use the menu to Add Topic


  5. Set up your discussion topic
    Image of the screen when clicking Add Topic

    1. Topic Title: Name for the Topic

    2. Forum: Select the forum the topic is part of
      Note: When adding a topic if you do not have a forum created for your topic click the Create Forum link to create a new forum. 

    3. Grade Out of: If grading use this to add the topic to the gradebook

    4. Description: The topic you want students to create threads for.

    5. Availability Dates & Conditions: Here the start and end date for the topic access can be set along with any release conditions and group or section restrictions.
      Note: Discussion Due Dates can only be set in content not in the discussion settings

    6. Post & Completion: The settings here will allow for anonymous posts or to set the topic for moderation.You can also set the topic to only allow students to see replies after making their thread first.

    7. Evaluation & Feedback: If using a rubric to assess the topic the rubric can be attached to the discussion from here. 


Article ID: 148917
Tue 1/30/24 1:37 PM
Tue 2/6/24 3:45 PM