How do I create a discussion forum?

How does a discussion forum work?

Click here to watch a video on how to create a discussion forum.

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.

Create a forum

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

The following boxes can be checked below Options:

  1. Select 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.
  2. Select A moderator must approve… if you want to approve every message before it is posted.
  3. Select 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.
  4. Select 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. Read more about this in the article: How do I create a Topic in a Discussion forum?


Use the Restrictions tab if you want to restrict how students can interact with the forum:

  1. Check the Hide from Users box if you want to hide the forum.
  2. Check the Has Start Date box if the forum only needs to be visible starting from a specific date and time, then fill these in.
  3. Check the Has End Date box if the forum only needs to be visible until a specific date and time, then fill these in.
  4. Check the Display in Calendar box if you want these dates to be visible in the calendar of the students.
  1. Unlock forum is checked as the default option: the forum will be open for activity.
  2. Check the Lock forum box if you want to lock the forum. Locked forums are visible to students but they will be unable to post in them.
  3. Check the Unlock forum for a specific date range box if you want the forum to be available for a specific period.  
  4. Fill in a start and/or end date and check the Display in Calendar box if you want these dates to be visible in the calendar of the students.

Click on Save and Close to return to the Discussions homepage. Click on Save and Add Topic to create a Topic or scroll up to add Restrictions.

Video on how to create a discussion forum

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