Discussions & Chat

Create an online forum for questions, comments, and general communication as a class.

Using Discussions

This guide shows how to create and manage discussions, forums and threads in a VU Collaborate delivery space. It is helpful to provide a central repository for questions, comments and to encourage online socialising amongst students.

To see a short video on How to Create a Discussion Forum and Discussion Topic, see the video below:

 Below are the steps to use Discussions:

Step One: Setting Up Discussion Forums and Topics

1. Click the Communication tab, then select Discussions.


Forums are used to organise your discussion topics into categories. You must create a forum before you can create a topic as all topics belong to forums. The topics are where posting and replying occurs.

Step Two: Setting up a Forum

 1. Click New, then New Forum.

 Step02 01

2. Give the discussion forum an appropriate Title and Description.

3. When finished click Save and Close.


Step Three: Setting up a Topic

 1. Click New, then New Topic.

Create new topic

2. Give the discussion topic an appropriate Title and Description.

3. Select which forum you would like to attach the topic to, from the dropdown list. In the example below, we have picked General Discussion Forum for the Unit. 


Step Four: Setting Availability 

You can select different Visibility and Locking Options in the Availability section. Visibility settings control when the forum or topic can be viewed by the users. Locking Options control when users can contribute to the forum or topic.

Availability Options

1. Edit Options for the topic, in this example we have ticked - a user must compose a message before participating in the topic. This means that each student needs to post their own message before they can see and respond to others.

2. You can change the Availability and Locking Options manually or you can use the specific date range options to make changes automatically.



3. Click Save.

Step Five: Assessment Options

1.  Scroll back to the top and select the Assessments tab.


2. Associate with the appropriate Grade Item by clicking the dropdown arrow in the Grade Item field. If you do not have available Grade Items, you can create one there by clicking on New Grade Item. To have Grade Items already created, see Creating a Grade Item.

3. Enter the number for Score Out of. This is the maximum amount of points one can give for the assessment.

4. Select how you would like to assess the individual messages from the options below. 


 5. Click Save and Close when finished. To grade this completed topic, see Assessing and Grading Discussions.  

Step Six: Reorder or Copying Discussions

Go to the Communication tab and click Discussions in the navigation bar. The More Actions function allows you to Copy, Reorder and Restore previously deleted messages.

1. You can copy and reorder the forums and topics by selecting the Copy and Reorder buttons.

Reorder Forum

Step Seven: Moderating Comments 

It is possible to respond to student discussion board comments by creating a post to address multiple posts.

1. Select the discussion topic you wish to view, by clicking on the title of the topic. 

2. Click on Start a New Thread to respond to the students discussion board message.


3. Enter a Title.

4. Enter your message. 

5. Tick subscribe to this thread, if you want to get notified when students reply to your thread. 

6. Pin a thread if you want it to stay at the top of the Activity Feed (list of posts); you can pin more than one if you like. This allows you to highlight important posts to ensure that students do not miss critical posts.

7. Click Post to publish the post for students to view.

post new thread

Step Eight: Adding Discussions to your Learning Space Area

You can add discussion forums and topics to the modules in the Learning Space of a VU Collaborate Space. This helps students find the relevant discussion board in the the Learning Space.

1. In the Learning Space, select the module where you want the discussion forum or topic to be linked. 

2. Click on Add Activities and select the Discussions option.


3. A pop-up menu will appear. From here, click on the discussion Forum, which will take you to another page, where you can select which topic you wish to embed into your content area by clicking on the topic title.

4. Or you can Create a New Discussion Forum, if applicable.


4. Once selected, it will appear at the bottom of the content module. A message will appear to confirm that the topic has been Saved.


Step Nine: Edit Discussion Properties and Add Restrictions

1. Click the dropdown arrow next to the topic's title.

2. To edit or add restrictions to the discussion topic, choose Edit Topic in the dropdown menu.

In Edit Topic you are able to:

  • change the description provided for the Discussion Topic
  • In Availability - change the Start Date, Due Date and End Date, as well as add the topic to the calendar
  • choose from a range of Options, and 
  • add ratings to the topic responses.

Edit topic

2. To add or edit release conditions, click Restrictions.


In Restrictions you can attach Release Conditions already created or create a new Release Condition for the discussion.  To create release conditions, see the Using Release Conditions help guide. 

3. A topic or forum can be locked to stop any further editing of posts, or only unlocked for a specified time (set in advance).

View Post Restrictions

4. Once completed, click Save and Close

Step Ten: Viewing Edited Posts and Edit History

If enabled in Restrictions, students are able to edit their posts within a topic. From a teacher's point of view it is possible to see if a post has been edited and what content was edited.

1. If edited, a pencil icon appears. Hover the cursor (mouse) over the icon to see the time/date of update.

Edited Post

2. To view what has been edited in a post, select the down arrow next to the post title and select View Post History.

View Post History

3. The changes made will appear chronologically with the most recent version on top.

Post History Versions

Further Support

Visit the VU Collaborate Help site at https://vucollaboratehelp.vu.edu.au for up to date information and resources on blended learning or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Contact ITS Service Desk on (03) 9919 2777 or via self-service http://servicedesk.vu.edu.au for further technical support.


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