How do I navigate forums and topics?

When working in the Discussions tool, it is strongly recommended that you use the site navigation, NOT the back and forward buttons in your web browser.

Additionally, you should compose messages or grade using only ONE browser window or tab.  Making changes in one tab or window, such as writing a post, and then moving to a different tab or window that was open before you made those changes may cause you to lose the content you were attempting to submit and/or encounter an error.

Go to Discussions.

Select Discussions from the tool menu in your site.

Main page content

The main Discussions page can include the following:

  1. Notifications tab - In each UVACollab site, you can choose to receive email notifications (link to instructions) when people post to them.
  2. Forums - A forum is an organizational unit that groups topics within the site. The forum title will appear in bold and in a larger font than the topic titles indented beneath it.
  3. Topics - Each topic contains Conversations, threads of forum posts.  To the right of a topic's title, the number of messages that have been posted in the topic displays, along with how many of them are marked as unread.
  4. Short Descriptions - The creator of a forum or topic can choose to add descriptive text that displays underneath the forum or topic title.  Instructors may use a short description to display discussion questions or other instructions for posting.
  5. View Full Description links - The creator of a forum or topic can also add a longer description to it, including text formatting, images, or videos.  Select View Full Description to display this additional information.
  6. View Full Description and Attachment(s) links - If the creator of a forum or topic has added any attachments to their forum or topic description, you can view attachments to expand a list of links to download them.

Note: Access to forums or topics can be restricted by dates (i.e., a forum or topic is only visible during a specific time period) or limited to specific groups in a site. If you cannot find a forum or topic, it may be hidden.

Example of a topic displaying a Full Description

When you select a View Full Description link for a forum or topic, the Full Description displays, as in the image above.  You can hide the full description by clicking Hide Full Description.

Select a forum.

Select the title of a forum to enter that forum.

Or select a topic within the forum.

Select the title of a topic to enter that topic.

Two navigation tools are available in Discussions to navigate away from a specific forum or topic:

  1. The Discussions (Refresh Tool) link
  2. Breadcrumb navigation

See below for detailed descriptions and screen shots of each of these navigation tools.

Return to the main page of Discussions.

Select the Discussions (Refresh Tool) link on any page in the tool to return to the main Discussions page.

After entering a forum or topic, your location is displayed above the forum or topic title.  The list that includes the forum and topic, also known as a breadcrumb trail, contains links to return to previous pages.

  1. Selecting the Forums link will take you back to the main page of Discussions.
  2. When viewing a specific topic, you can navigate back to the forum that contains the topic by selecting the forum title, or by selecting the speech bubble with an up arrow icon to Go up one level.

In the example pictured above, the breadcrumb trail, Forums / Weekly Discussions / Week 2 - Cartoons & Memes, indicates that you are currently viewing the Week 2 - Cartoons & Memes topic within the Weekly Discussions forum.

View and access conversations in a topic.

Screenshot shows a discussion topic with a table of conversations (described below). Graphic link opens modal with larger image. Press Escape to exit modal.

When you access a topic, a list of conversations will display with their authors and dates when they were posted.  Each conversation will indicate how many messages it contains and how many of them are marked as unread.  Any messages you post are automatically counted as read.

You can sort conversations and access message content using buttons and links on the topic page.  These buttons and links are described below.

Sort conversations.

Screenshot shows a discussion topic and how to sort the table of conversations (described below). Graphic link opens modal with larger image. Press Escape to exit modal.

You can select one of the following links to sort conversations in the list alphabetically by the conversations' subjects or authors, or in chronological order:

  1. Conversation to Sort by conversation,
  2. Authored By to Sort by author,
  3. Date to Sort by date.

By default, conversations are sorted by date, with the most recently posted at the bottom.  You can select any of the sorting links to sort conversations in reverse order (e.g., selecting Date when the most recent conversations are at the bottom will reverse the order so the most recent are at the top of the list).

Expand conversations.

You can select the arrow (Expand or Collapse) icons and Expand All/Collapse All to expand or collapse the list of messages in conversations. Selecting to Expand posts will display the subject line of each message in the conversation.

Display content of all messages in the topic.

Two buttons near the top of the screen will allow you to access all the messages from any conversations posted in the topic:

  1. Select the Display Message Content button to access all the messages in the topic.  Depending on the topic's settings, you may have access to links to reply to messages and mark them as read.  By default, students and site members can reply to messages.
  2. Select the Print button to see all the messages in the topic in a plainer print view, with no buttons to reply or mark messages as read.

Example of a topic with message content displayed

After selecting Display Message Content, a topic will resemble the screen shot above.

  1. Depending on the topic settings, you may have a button available to you to Mark All as Read.  This will count all messages in the topic as read.
  2. A link will also be available to Go to first new message.  This link will take you to the first unread message in the topic.
  3. Select Display Subject Only to return your topic view to the list of conversations' subject lines.
  4. If other topics exist in the same forum, buttons will be available to go to the < Previous Topic or the Next Topic >.
  5. Depending on the topic settings, you may find buttons to do the following, Edit or Delete your own messages;
  6. Mark as Read (for messages posted by others) or Reply to messages.  

For more information on replying to messages, see How do I reply to a forum post (in a conversation)?

Example of a topic's print view

After selecting the Print button, the content of all the messages in the topic, with the messages' subjects, authors, and dates, will pop up in a new browser tab or window.  You can select the printer icon (Send to Printer) if you'd like to print the messages.

Topics with reading and posting restrictions

Depending on a topic's settings, you may not be able to access posts in it until after you post your own message or an instructor or site administrator approves messages in a moderated topic.  Additionally, in an anonymous topic, you won't see the identities of others who post messages.  Below are descriptions of topics with these settings.

Requirement to post before reading

If you select a topic where you have not yet posted, and the following message displays: You must post to this topic before you can view any messages, it means that you must start a conversation and submit your own message before you can read other participants' posts.

Select Start a New Conversation to begin.  For more information on posting in Discussions, see How do I post to a forum?

Note: By default, students in course sites and members in collaboration sites have the ability to start new conversations in forum topics.  If you do not see a button present to Start a New Conversation, an instructor or site administrator may have disabled this option for the selected topic.

Moderated topics

  1. When viewing a moderated topic, the text: ( Moderated ) displays to the right of the topic title.
  2. When you first post a message in a moderated topic, it will be labeled with Pending to the left of its title.  This means that an instructor or site administrator will need to approve it for it to be visible to other site participants.

Anonymous topics

Anonymous topic image

In an anonymous topic, authors' identities are hidden by default from students in course sites and members in collaboration sites.  The author's name and profile image that normally display with messages are replaced with a randomly generated posting ID number.  The text: (me) displays to the right of the posting ID for any messages you authored.