Creating a Discussion Forum and Topics
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, and 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:
- Setting Up a Discussion Forum
- Setting Up a Topic
- Setting Restrictions and Release Conditions
- Assessment Options
- Reorder or Copying Discussions
- Moderating Comments
- Adding Discussions to Your Learning Space Area
- Edit Discussion Properties
- Viewing Edited Posts and Edit History
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 occur.
2. Click New, then New Forum.
3. Give the discussion forum an appropriate Title and Description.
4. Scroll down for more options when creating a discussion forum.
- Allow anonymous messages: Checking this option will allow anonymous messages to be posted to topics created within this forum. Anonymous messages are displayed with the message author 'Anonymous' in the Message List.
- Users must start a thread before they can read and reply to other threads in each topic: Selecting this option will require a user to start a new thread in a topic before viewing or replying to other threads in that topic in the forum. This option cannot be selected alongside the "Allow anonymous posts" option.
- Messages must be approved before being displayed: require messages posted to topics created within this forum to be approved before they are displayed to all users in the Message List.
- Display forum description in topics: display the forum's description in addition to the topic description when viewing a topic
5. When finished click Save and Close.
1. Click New, then New Topic.
2. 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.
3. Choose a Topic Type. By default, the system will select an Open topic, everyone can access this topic and its contents. If you would like only allow students to see/access their group posts, select Group or section topic, everyone can access this topic but students only see threads from their own group or section.
4. Give the discussion topic an appropriate Title and Description.
5. Scroll down to Options, 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.
6. Rate Posts (optional): this function allows users with the appropriate permissions to rate discussion posts in the unit.
- • 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.
You can select different Availability Options in the Restrictions tab. Availability settings control when the forum or topic can be viewed by the users and when users can contribute to the forum or topic.
1. Select the Restrictions tab. To hide the forum or topic, simply tick the Hide from Users option.
2. To enter a Start Date and End Date, simply tick the checkboxes and use the calendar function to enter a specific date range. Select between the three options:
- Visible with access restricted before start/end: this option allows activity to be visible to students before the Start Date or after the End Date, but they cannot click or open it.
- Visible with submission restricted before start/end: the activity will be visible to students before the Start Date or after the End Date. Students can access and view the activity but cannot complete it.
- Hidden before start/end: The activity will be hidden from students until the Start Date, and/or after the End Date.
By default, the Visible with access restricted before start/after end options will be chosen.
3. Tick on Display In Calendar if you would like the activity to be added to the VU Collaborate calendar.
4. Under Release Conditions, there is the option to either Attach Existing or Create and Attach new release conditions for the discussion area. To create release conditions, see the Using Release Conditions help guide.
If you would like to restrict the discussion area to a specific group, then tick Restrict this topic to the following groups and select Add Groups to search for the specific group, otherwise, you may bypass this step.
5. Click Save.
1. Scroll back to the top and select the Assessment 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. Optional: you can also add a marking rubric to assess and provide feedback on the discussion topic.
5. Optional: select how you would like to assess and calculate the individual messages from the options below.
- Assess each message and automatically calculate the topic score: Checking this option will allow messages posted to the topic to be scored. The message scores are used to automatically calculate the topic score.
- Include unassessed messages in the calculated score as zero: Checking this option will include non-scored messages in the topic score calculation as zero. If this option is not checked, non-scored messages will not be included in the topic score calculation.
6. Click Save and Close when finished. To grade this completed topic, see Assessing and Grading Discussions.
1. 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.
2. You can copy and reorder the forums and topics by selecting the Copy and Reorder buttons.
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 student's discussion board message.
3. Enter a Title/Subject.
4. Enter your message.
5. Tick Subscribe to this thread option 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.
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 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 New Discussion Forum or Create New Discussion Topic, if applicable.
5. Once selected, it will appear at the bottom of the content module. A message will appear to confirm that the topic has been Saved.
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.
3. Once completed, click Save and Close.
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.
2. To view what has been edited in a post, select the down arrow next to the post title and select View Post History.
3. The changes made will appear chronologically with the most recent version on top.
Contact ITS Service Desk on (03) 9919 2777 or via self-service http://servicedesk.vu.edu.au for further technical support.