What is the Discussions tool?

The Discussions tool allows site administrators to create an unlimited number of discussion forums, and is integrated closely with other tools such as Gradebook and Lessons.

A Forum is a mandatory category or grouping for topics. Topics, which are created within forums, are where participants can post conversations. A Conversation is the thread of messages in which participants post their contributions. By default, conversations can be created by site administrators and students or site members inside of a topic.

Note: If Discussions was not previously included in a site, a forum with the name of the site and a topic titled "General Discussion" will be created by default when adding the tool.

Note: For instructions to add this or any other tool to your site, see How do I add a tool to my site?

Discussions Features

The Discussions tool includes options to do the following.

Restrict availability and moderate posts:

  • Availability dates: Forums and topics can be made visible to participants according to specified dates.
  • Post before reading option: Site administrators can require participants to submit their posts to a topic before they have permission to read messages posted by others in that topic.
  • Moderation: Messages posted to moderated topics must be approved by a site administrator before other participants can read them.
  • Anonymous topics: Authors' names in a topic can be hidden from site participants. An anonymous ID number will display with posts in the topic for those who do not have permission to see the identities of authors.
  • Group discussions: Site administrators can create forums or topics with access restricted to specific groups. This feature is particularly useful to set up discussions for individual rosters within a large course site, and for organizing group projects.

View Statistics:

  • Statistics: Forum and topic statistics are available for site administrators to determine the participation level of individual users. Site administrators can also read all of a particular participant's posts using this feature.
  • Counts of unread posts at a glance: If Message Center Notifications are included on your site's Overview page (select Overview on the site's tool menu), you can see how many unread messages you have in Discussions. From your Home site, you can see the totals for all sites in which you are enrolled.

Interact with other UVACollab tools:

  • Grading: Enter grades and comments for discussion posts to items in the Gradebook.
  • Direct link to specific forums or topics: Using the Rich-Text Editor or pages in Lessons, site administrators can link to individual forums or topics from other tools.

Author and reply to posts:

  • Composing messages: The Rich-Text Editor allows you to enter text and include links or embedded media in your posts. You can add attachments to any message by uploading files or linking to items in Resources.
  • Quoted text: Use the Insert original text option to include a message to which you are replying in your post.

Send and receive emails:

  • Email notifications: For topics that allow email notifications to be sent, site members can elect to receive no notifications, emails for all new posts in those topics, or emails for responses to conversations where they've posted or replied. The default is to receive no notifications.
  • Email the author of a message: Site administrators can select a link in the Discussions tool to compose an email that automatically includes the discussion post's title in the email subject line.

To access this tool, select Discussions from the tool menu in your site.