Instructor Support for Educational Systems

How do I create a Discussion Forum and Topic?

Updated Jun 02, 2021

In this article, you can read how to create a discussion forum and how to add a topic to a discussion forum. At the end of the article you can also find two instruction videos about these subjects.

How does a discussion forum work?

Allow students to easily work together and communicate via Brightspace discussion forums. Create a discussion forum for a course to enable students to discuss a relevant topic online. You can reach the Discussions homepage by:

  • Clicking on Course Tools.
  • Clicking on Discussions.

A forum can consist out of multiple topics just like a course can contain multiple forums. Integrate the discussions in your course by linking to it in Content.

You can allow your students to discuss a specific topic or place them in groups and have them exchange ideas in a more private setting. Starting a discussion works the same for both cases: you first have to create a forum and subsequently add one or multiple topics.

A topic is a place where students can place and read messages. They can create one or multiple threads within a topic. Threads are main messages to which others can reply with a post. A student is able to both create a thread and post a reply. As the teacher (who is the moderator of the discussion) you are able to modify or delete all the posts made by students. You can also subscribe to forums, topics, and/or threads to receive messages when there are any new posts or updates.

Topics can be found within a forum and are usually named after the subject up for discussion. A forum can include multiple topics (for instance: a forum with the title Democracy vs. Dictatorship can contain a topic called Arguments in favour of democracy/dictatorship, and a topic Arguments against democracy/dictatorship).

Create a forum

  • Go to Course Tools in the navbar of your course
  • Click Discussions
  • Click New and after that click New Forum.
  • Give your forum a title.
  • Do you want to immediately create a topic with the same name? Check the ‘Create a new topic…’ box.
  • Add a description (and/or video or link) in the HTML editor.

The following boxes can be checked below Options:

  • Check Allow anonymous posts if you want to enable anonymous posting. Students will not see the names associated with a message. Messages will only be anonymous for students but the moderator (you) can still see the names.
  • Check A moderator must approve… if you want to approve every message before it is posted.
  • Check Users must start a thread before… if you want every student to first post a thread before they can read the other posts and/or post replies.
  • Check Display forum description in topics if you want the description of the forum to be visible in every topic. Topics can also have their own description. 

Create a topic

A topic of a forum is visible voor student if and only if the forum is visible for students.

  • Click on New and after that on New Topic.
  • Select the forum to which you want to link the topic or click on New Forum to create a new forum.
  • Below Topic Type you choose if everyone in the course gets access to this topic (Open topic) or if all students can view the topic, but within the topic they can only see threads from the group they belong to (Group or section topic).
  • Add a title.
  • Add a description.
  • The following boxes can be checked below Options:
    • Check Allow anonymous posts if you want to enable anonymous posting. Students will not see the names associated with a message. Messages will only be anonymous for students but the moderator (you) can still see the names.
    • Check A moderator must approve… if you want to approve every message before it is posted.
    • Check Users must start a thread before… if you want every student to first post a thread before they can read the other posts and/or post replies.

Below Rate Posts you can choose whether or not students are able to rate posts. You can choose:

  • No Ratings if students are not allowed to rate posts;
  • Five-star Rating Scheme if students can rate posts on a five-star rating scheme;
  • Up Vote/Down vote Rating Scheme for a voting system;
  • Up Vote Only Rating Scheme for a voting system with only upvotes.

You can also create discussion topics per group if you have not already linked a forum to your groups. You will find how to do this in the manual How do I create a discussion topic per group?

Instruction videos

This video is made by Brightspace supplier D2L. Some screens might have a different look and feel to the Universiteit Leiden Brightspace environment.

Video on how to create a discussion forum

Video on how to create a topic in a discussion forum

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