How do I create a discussion Forum?

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

  • A Forum is a mandatory category or grouping for topics. You can create more than one Forum in your course or project site.
  • You must create Topics 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.

Go to the Forums tool.

Go to the Forums tool.

Select the Forums tool from the Tool Menu of your course.

Click New Forum.

Click New Forum.

By default, new sites are populated with a single forum titled after the name of the site, and containing one topic for General Discussion. You may use the default forum and topic for posting messages, add more topics to the existing forum, or add a new forum.

Click the New Forum button to add a new forum.

Give your forum a title.

Give your forum a title.

Forum titles are required. Give your forum a title to identify the types of topics you expect to add within it. Remember that users post messages within topics, not forums. Forums are a grouping or classification of topics.

In the example above, we have named the example forum Case Study Discussions.

Enter a short description.

Enter a short description.

If desired, you may 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 the user when they view the Forum tool.

Enter a detailed description.

Enter a detailed description.

If you would like to provide more detailed instructions about the items in this forum, use the Description area to enter your information. This area includes the rich text editor and allows for more advanced formatting options.

Add attachments

Add attachments

You may optionally add file attachments to the forum. Click the Add attachments button to browse for and select a file.

View attachments

View attachments

Once you have attached a file, the filename, file size, and file format will be displayed.

Select forum posting options.

Select forum posting options.

You have several forum posting options to choose from. Remember that any settings you select here will apply to all of the topics within this forum by default. (However, you may override the settings on an individual topic if desired.)

  • Lock forum: This option locks the forum so that users can no longer post messages. However, they can continue to read existing messages.
  • Moderate topics in forum: This option means that all messages posted within topics in this forum must be approved by the instructor before other students can see them.
  • Require users to post before reading: This option means that users must post their own response first, before they can see other messages posted previously. This is a good option to select if you want students to respond to a discussion prompt before seeing other student responses so that they don't imitate other replies.

Select availability.

Select availability.

The default option is to Show Immediately. However, if you may also Specify dates to open (show) and/or close (hide) if you prefer.

Tip: Setting open and close dates at the forum level can be tricky because individual topics may also have specified dates. However, the forum must be visible in order for the topics within the forum to be available to students. Typically, instructors set open/close dates at the topic level only.

Choose to mark messages in conversations as read.

Choose to mark messages in conversations as read.

If you prefer to mark all messages within a conversation, or thread, as read when you view a conversation (rather than clicking on each post individually) you may want to check the box for Automatically mark all messages in a conversation as read.

Specify Gradebook item.

Specify Gradebook item.

If you would like to grade this forum, you may specify an item in the Gradebook where the grades will be stored. However, you must have existing Gradebook items in order to associate the forum with the item. (If you don't make a selection here, you may still grade the forum and point to the Gradebook item when entering scores.)

Tip: Similar to open/close dates, associating with the Gradebook at the forum level is not always ideal because individual topics may also be graded. Most faculty prefer to grade discussions at the topic level.

Permissions.

Permissions.

In most cases, the default forum permissions are appropriate. By default, instructors 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 only read, post and reply to messages.

If you would like to modify the default permissions, click on the small arrow to the left of the Permissions section to expand the permission settings.

Modifying permissions.

Modifying permissions.

Forum permissions may be customized for different user roles, or for groups within the class. You may use the drop-down menu next to each role/group to select one of the pre-configured options (i.e. Author, Contributor, None, Non-editing Author, Owner, Reviewer),

You may also click on the Customize button to the right to further expand the options for more granular custom permissions.

Note: You must have existing groups in your site for the group titles to show up in the permissions area.

Save and add topic.

Save and add topic.

Once you have completed all of your forum settings, scroll down to the bottom of the page and select the Save Settings & Add Topic button. (Since all forums need at least one topic to be active, this will save you some time by taking you directly to the Topic creation screen.)

Topic Settings.

Topic Settings.

Topic settings are identical to forum settings for the following items. The only difference is that these settings apply to a single topic, and not all of the topics in the forum. If you would like to keep all of the same settings that you selected on the forum level, you don't need do anything except specify a title and (optionally) a description for your new topic.

  1. Topic Title
  2. Short Description
  3. Description
  4. Attachments
  5. Topic Posting
  6. Availability
  7. Mark All Messages in Conversations Read
  8. Grading
  9. Permissions

However, at the topic level, there is also an additional option:

10. Automatically create topics for groups

Automatically create topics for groups

Automatically create topics for groups

To create multiple, private group topic areas, select the radio button for Automatically create topics for groups and then check the box next to each group for which you would like a topic created. The Student role will automatically be set to the permission level of None. Each group will be set to Contributor in their group's topic and None in other automatically created topics.

Save.

Save.

If this completes the topic/s to be added to this forum, click on the Save button at the bottom of the screen to save your topic settings.

Or, if you have more topics to add to this forum, you may click on the Save Settings & Add Topic button to add another topic.