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  3. The Discussions Tool in Brightspace
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  2. Learning Management System (Brightspace)
  3. The Discussions Tool in Brightspace

The Discussions Tool in Brightspace

The Discussions Tool in Brightspace

This article is part of the DLE WEEKLY UPDATE series.

This tool provides an area for collaboration and communication, allowing learners to post, read and reply to messages on different topics, share thoughts about course materials, ask questions, share files and work with peers or colleagues.

Discussions can be broken down into 3 elements:

  1. Forums – The forum is an area (heading or category) where one or multiple discussion topics exist. Discussions can NOT happen in an empty forum without one or more topics. Look at a forum as being a garage that can hold one or multiple cars (topics)!!!
  2. Topics – The topic is where you state what is to be discussed and it MUST be part of a forum.
  3. Threads – Students can create a discussion thread or just comment to a thread started by a classmate. A thread is part of a topic and a topic belongs to a forum.

Questions and Answers

  1. How do I create a forum? From Activities/Discussions in the course navigation bar, click on New Forum. This video has step by step instructions.
  2. How do I create a discussion topic? There are open topics, where all learners from that course can contribute to, and topics restricted only to groups or sections (for combined courses) contributions. You can create anonymous or moderated topics. Learn more about this.
  3. How do I grade a discussion topic? Go to Activities/Discussions and choose “Assess Topic” from the contextual menu for the topic. Note that you will see that option ONLY if you have associated a grade column with the topic from the “Assessment” tab. Also, you will have the option to grade using a rubric. Watch this video for detailed instructions.
    Important: Quick Eval can also be used to grade discussions.
  4. How do I add a rubric to a discussion topic? Watch this video to learn how to add a rubric to a discussion topic.
  5. How do my students access a discussion topic? They can access it from the Activities/Discussions or from a “Content” area – You need to use the”Existing Activities” button to create a link to the topic.
  6. Why can’t my students post a thread? Start by making sure you have a topic in the forum, then check the topic date restrictions. The last step is to verify if the forum where the topic exists does not have availability restrictions, as all the topics contained in that forum will inherit the forum restrictions.
  7. How do I restrict my students from viewing the discussions until they first post a thread? When you create the topic, in the topic’s properties, you must have the “Users must start a thread before they can read and reply to other threads” checked off.
  8. I gave feedback on the discussion topics, but my students don’t see it. Make sure your forum is not hidden or has an end-date restriction. Students won’t be able to see your feedback after the end date. The solution is to lock your forum, in which case the students will be able to view the forum and the feedback, but won’t be allowed to post.
  9. How do I keep a forum available to students for read-only access? You have the option to lock the forum.
  10. My students can not seem to be able to reply other students’ threads. First, verify if the forum/topic is not locked. Also, in some situations the Reply button is not visible when you just view the threads. Students will actually need to click on the title of the thread first and then the Reply button will show up.
  11. Can I have students part of a group see only their own group’s threads? When you set up a topic, create it as a group topic type by checking off the “Group or section topic, everyone can access this topic but students only see threads from their own group or section”.
  12. How can I create private discussions for Journaling? Using a combination of the Groups and Discussions tools will allow you to create a private discussion (journal) between a single learner and the instructor. Step by step instructions are provided here.
  13. How do I moderate discussions? Click here for details on this.
  14. How do I make sure I keep up to date when new discussion posts are made? You and your students must subscribe to the thread, topic or forum in question. Students are automatically subscribed to a thread that they create, but not when they reply to the threads of others. They must manually subscribe using the star icon at the top, and can either receive notifications within Brightspace or by email.

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