A discussion board forum is an area where participants discuss a topic or a group of related topics. Within each forum, users can create multiple threads. A thread includes the initial post and all replies to it. You can create forums and threads to organize discussions into units or topics relevant to your course. To distinguish between forums and threads, see Understanding Discussion Forums and Threads.
Forum settings allow you to use the discussion board in different ways. For example, to control a forum, an instructor creates all threads, moderates, and grades the posts. For a student-led discussion, you can allow students to create new threads with the option of posting anonymously.
As you create forums, select the appropriate settings based on the pedagogical goals for your course:
To help students stay connected with discussion board content, you can enable email alerts and add a discussion board link alongside content. To learn more, see How to Allow Email Alerts for New Discussion Posts.
If you created groups in your course, you can enable group discussion boards. Group members are allowed to create their own forums and threads, and apply the settings to fit their needs. To learn more, see Creating Group Discussions.
How to Create Forums in the Discussion Board
- On the course menu, click the Tools link. On the Tools page, select Discussion Board.
On the Control Panel, expand the Course Tools section, and select Discussion Board. On the Discussion Board page, click the link to the appropriate discussion board.
- On the Discussion Board page, click Create Forum on the action bar.
- On the Create Forum page, type a Name. Choose a descriptive and unique name because users click this name to access the forum.
- Optionally, type instructions or a description in the Description box. You can use the content editor functions to format the text and include files, images, web links, multimedia, and mashups. Any files you upload from your computer are saved in Course Files or the Content Collection in the top-level folder. Attachments you upload using the content editor can be launched in a new window and can include alternate text to describe the attachment. The Description appears below the forum name on the Discussion Board page.
- In the Forum Availability section, select Yes to make the forum available to users.
You can create forums ahead of time and set the availability to No until the discussion is ready to start.
- For Enter Date and Time Restrictions, you can set forums to display on a specific date and time and to stop displaying on a specific date and time. Select the Display After and Display Until check boxes to enable the date and time selections. Use the pop-up Date Selection Calendar and Time Selection Menu to select dates and times or type dates and times in the boxes. Display restrictions do not affect the forum availability, only when it appears.
- Select the Forum Settings based on your specific needs. For example, if you are grading posts and want to retain the posts as they were at the time of grading, clear the check box for Allow Author to Edit Own Published Posts. To learn more about how you can use forum settings to meet your requirements, see the following bulleted list.
- Click Submit.
On the Discussion Board page, the new forum appears at the bottom of the list. To learn how to change the order of forums, see How to Reorder Discussion Forums.
Suggestions for Forum Settings in the Discussion Board
The following list includes some of the ways you can control the behavior of forums in a discussion board.
- If you want to create effective social forums, select the Allow Anonymous Posts and No Grading in Forum options. Allowing students to post anonymously is important at the beginning of a course when they are still becoming comfortable with discussions. If quality and behavior monitoring is a concern, assign a moderator to review each post before making it public. To learn about moderating the discussion board, see How to Control Discussion Board Content (Moderating).
- If you want to create forums where students have control of the discussion, allow them to edit, delete, and rate posts. To learn more about ratings, see How to Rate Discussion Posts. Also, you can allow students to create new threads and direct the discussion.
- If you want to have a tightly controlled forum and use it for evaluating student performance, select the Force Moderation of Posts and Grade Forum or Grade Threads options. To be sure students focus on the existing threads, do not allow the creation of new threads.
- When you want your students to focus on the existing threads, clear the check box for Allow Members to Create New Threads.
- If you allow authors to edit their published posts, consider locking the thread after grading. Users cannot change locked posts. To learn more, see How to Change the Status of a Thread in a Discussion Forum.
- You cannot select some settings in combination. For example, if you are grading forums or threads, anonymous posts are not allowed. Also, if thread grading is enabled, members cannot create new threads.
- If you select Grade Forum or Grade Threads, you can choose the number of posts that will place the activity in needs grading status. To learn more, see About the Grade Center. You might want to grade students only when they have made a certain number of posts, rather than grading each time they make a single post.
- When the Grade Forum option is selected, you can associate rubrics with a forum. If the Grade Threads option is selected, you can associate rubrics when creating or editing a thread. To learn more, see Rubrics.
If you want to force students to post original ideas before allowing them to see and reply to what other students have posted, consider selecting the Participants must create a thread in order to view other threads in this forum option.
Your school controls what tools are available. If you do not see this option, your school has not turned it on.
How to Allow Email Alerts for New Discussion Posts
When you enable email subscription, students can receive email alerts for new posts or replies. You can allow students to subscribe to an entire forum or to specific threads within a forum.
When you first create a forum or when you edit the forum settings, you select the options for subscriptions to forums or threads.
- Access the discussion board, and access a forum's contextual menu..
- Select Edit.
- On the Edit Forum page, in the Forum Settings section, select the Subscribe options.
- Allow members to subscribe to threads allows users to select specific threads within the forum.
- Allow members to subscribe to forum allows subscription to all threads within the forum.
- Include body of post in the email displays the message text and a link to reply to the message in the email notification.
- Include link to post displays a link to the message in the email notification.
- Click Submit.
How to Add a Link to the Discussion Board in a Course Area
You can incorporate the discussion board into course areas, allowing students to access the tool alongside content. For example, you can add links to the discussion board itself or specific discussion forums to any content area, learning module, lesson plan, or folder.
In a content area, you can add a forum link following lecture notes to gather questions on the material presented or after an assignment to gather students' perceptions on how they did. You can add adaptive release rules or date availability restrictions to limit students' access. This allows them to access content in a specified order, such as reading a PDF before adding posts to the discussion board. To learn about using adaptive release to control when content is released, see Controlling the Release of Content.
- Access the content area, learning module, lesson plan, or folder where you want to link to the discussion board or forum. Change Edit Mode to ON.
- On the action bar, point to Tools to access the drop-down list.
- Select Discussion Board.
- On the Create Link: Discussion Board page, select the Link to Discussion Board Page option to link to the discussion board itself.
Select the Select a Discussion Board Forum option and select a forum from the list.
Click Create New Forum to add a link to a forum you create at this time. You select all forum settings at the time of creation. The newly created forum appears in the list of forums to choose from when adding the link in your course.
- Click Next.
- On the next Create Link: Discussion Board page, type a Link Name. The Link Name cannot exceed 50 characters. Students click the name to access the discussion board or forum.
- Optionally, type instructions or a description in the Text box. You can use the content editor functions to format the text and include files, images, web links, multimedia, and mashups. Files uploaded from your computer are saved in Course Files or the Content Collection in the top-level folder.
- For the Available option, select Yes to make the link available to users.
- For the Track Number of Views option, select Yes or No. If you enable tracking, the number of times the link is viewed, when it is viewed, and by whom is recorded.
- For Date Restrictions, you can set the link to display on a specific date and time and to stop displaying on a specific date and time. Select the Display After and Display Until check boxes to enable the date and time selections. Type dates and times in the boxes or use the pop-up Date Selection Calendar and Time Selection Menu to select dates and times. Display restrictions do not affect the availability of the discussion board or forum content, only when it appears.
- Click Submit.
Student view of a forum link in a content area
Creating a Discussion Board Forum (Flash movie | 4m 21s)