How do I create a forum?

The Discussions tool is organized by Forums, Topics, and Conversations.  

  • A Forum is a mandatory category or grouping for topics.  There may be more than one Forum in the course or collaboration site.  
  • Topics are required within Forums in order for site participants to be able to post, read, and reply to messages.  
  • Conversations are messages or threads of discussion posted within a Topic.

Video Guide

Step-by-Step Instructions

Go to Discussions.

Select Discussions from the Tool Menu in your site.

Select the New Forum tab.

By default, new sites are populated with a single Forum titled after the name of the site, and containing one topic for General Discussion.  If you used a Site Template when creating your site, the default Forum will be in draft form, and named based on the template's title (e.g., Basic-Course Forum).

  1. The default forum and topic may be edited for posting messages.  Select Forum Settings to edit the default forum.
  2. You may also add more topics to the existing forum, or add a new forum. Select the New Forum tab to add a new forum.

Title the forum.

Forum Titles are required.  Give the forum a title that easily identifies the types of topics expected within it.  Remember that users post messages within topics, not forums.  Forums are a grouping or classification of topics.

Enter a short description. (Optional)

If desired, enter a description into the text box provided.  The Short Description field only allows a maximum of 255 characters and does not allow formatting of text.  This information is displayed to site participants when they view the Discussions tool.

Note: You can resize the Short Description box by clicking in the lower right-hand corner of the box and dragging it bigger or smaller.

Enter a detailed description. (Optional)

To provide more detailed instructions for posting in this forum, use the Description field to enter the information.  The Description field includes the Rich-Text Editor and allows for more advanced formatting options.  Site participants will be able to view the description by clicking a View Full Description link on the main page of Discussions.

Add attachment(s). (Optional)

You can attach files as part of the forum description.  Click the Add attachments button to browse for and select a file.  Site participants will be able to download attachments by clicking a View Attachment(s) link on the main page of Discussions.

Check or remove attachments.

After a file is attached, the file name, size (in bytes), and type of file will be displayed.  A Remove link is available to remove an attachment.

Select forum posting options.

There are several forum posting options from which to choose.  Any settings selected here will apply to all of the Topics within this Forum by default.  (However, these may be overridden in the Topic Settings of an individual Topic if desired.)

  • Lock forum:  Locking the forum prevents participants from posting messages in it.  However, they can continue to read existing messages.  
  • Moderate topics in forum: This option means all messages posted within topics in this forum must be approved by the instructor or site administrator before they can be accessed by other members.
  • Require users to post before reading:  Selecting this option requires users to post their own response first, before they can view other messages posted previously.  This is a good option for instructors who want students to respond to a discussion prompt before seeing other students' responses.

Select availability.

The default option is to Show immediately.  You can also choose to Specify dates to open (show) and/or close (hide).

If you set availability dates for a forum, all topics and content in that forum will be hidden when the forum is not open.  Alternatively, you can set availability dates for individual topics within the forum to have each topic open or close at different dates.

Note: Choosing to Specify dates to open (show) and/or close (hide) is different from choosing to Lock a forum.  Site participants will not be able to see a hidden forum at all, but they can read messages that were previously posted to topics in a forum you lock.

Automatically mark all messages as read. (Optional)

The default option is unchecked, requiring site participants to mark each post as read after reading. Selecting this option will mark all messages in a conversation, or thread, as read, as soon as a participant accesses the conversation.

Select a gradebook item to grade the forum. (Optional)

You can Select a Gradebook item to grade the forum in Gradebook Classic.

Note: You must have created a Gradebook item prior to the creation of the forum for this option to be available.  If there are no Gradebook items available, you can continue with the creation of the forum and return to edit the Forum Settings after you create a Gradebook item.

Tip: Some instructors prefer to select a gradebook item for each individual topic to grade at the topic level instead.

View Permissions.

In most cases, the default forum permissions are appropriate.  By default, instructors and site administrators are forum Owners, and all other site participants are Contributors.  The forum owner may add and delete topics, modify permissions, edit the forum and topic descriptions, etc.  Contributors may read, post and reply to messages.  Contributors may also edit and delete their Own messages.

Modify Permissions.

Forum permissions may be customized for different user roles, rosters, or groups within a site.  

  1. Select the drop-down menu next to each role or group to choose one of the pre-configured options (i.e. Author, Contributor, None, Non-editing Author, Owner, Reviewer).
  2. Click the Customize button to the right to further expand the options for more granular custom permissions.
  3. The default permissions allow contributors (the default role for students and collaboration site members) to post new conversations, read posts, reply to posts, mark posts as read, and edit and delete their own messages.  You can add or revoke posting or reading privileges by selecting or deselecting the check boxes for those privileges.  To prevent students from either editing or deleting their own messages, select Customize for the Student role, then select None under the Edit Messages or Delete Messages column.

Note: Group permissions display if groups have been created.

Save and add topic.

Once completed, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the Save Settings & Add Topic button.  If you prefer to create your topic(s) for the forum later, you can click Save or Save Draft; however, a forum with no topic added will not be available to site participants.

See How do I create a topic? for more information about topic settings options.