What are Discussions?

Forums allow interactive communication between two or more people; users can participate in a conversation with the whole class or group.

Discussions can also be created as an assignment for grading or simply serve as a forum for current events. Forums can also be created within student groups.

Forum topics can be organized as focused or threaded forums. Focused forums only allow two levels of nesting, the original post and the post replies. Threaded threads allow infinite levels of nesting. Focused forums are relatively short-lived interactions, while threaded forums allow responses within responses and can last for a long period of time.

Focused forums include a reply and comment nesting layer. Focused forums are short-lived interactions that tend to fade as the course progresses, such as a weekly forum for questions related to the week’s activities.

Use a focused forum for related posts and comments. A forum leader usually posts a message and multiple people comment on it. Participants can leave a comment in parentheses for a response, but cannot develop the conversation beyond two layers of nesting.

Focused forums could also be used to:

  • answer a single question
  • share resources among colleagues
  • collect results from a simple research activity
  • share solutions to a unique problem
  • correct misconceptions
  • clarify course policies
  • get feedback on a work in progress
  • share ideas about a unique reading

Threaded forums include infinite layers of reply nesting, allowing commenters to continue replying to a single nested thread. Spun forums lend themselves to the refinement of complex ideas. The answers and the different lines of research can be quickly navigated due to their hierarchical structure. Threaded forums can be lengthy spaces for ideas that persist throughout an entire course.

Use a threaded forum for multiple related posts and comments. One or more forum leaders post a message, and multiple students comment with the freedom to create any number of discussion threads and comments.

Thread forums could also be used to:

  • post and answer multiple related or unrelated questions
  • organize the results of a complex research activity
  • share and iterate on ideas shared by each student in the course
  • discuss the pros and cons of a single or multiple topic
  • ask multiple questions to a single forum leader
  • refine ideas among multiple forum leaders and multiple learners
  • facilitate group forums on a variety of topics
  • facilitate forums around a forum (fishbowl conversations)
  • extensively explore the feasibility of different solutions to a complex problem

In discussions you can:

  • Create, edit and delete discussion topics. You can also reply to, edit, and delete individual person discussion posts.
  • Create threaded or focused discussions in the course. (Private conversations can be initiated within student groups, which are not visible to outsiders of the group.)
  • Create discussions with multiple due dates for different sections within your course.
  • Create a discussion group as a task.
  • Subscribe to a discussion forum, let’s talk and get notified of responses.
  • You can enable podcasts within your discussions.
  • Embed or attach YouTube files, images, and videos.
  • Add course content directly from your course.
  • Delay discussion messages until a defined date.
  • You can pin threaded discussions for your students to see at the top of the discussion page.