Discussions: **The Big Picture
The Discussions tool (or bulletin board or forum) serves as a place where an instructor and students can post questions and comments for others to read. Course participants can respond to others’ comments. Unlike Chat, it is meant for asynchronous communication in which users are not necessarily logged in at the same time. Messages are posted and may be read and responded to at any subsequent time.
Instructors can assign grades for participation, just as they would in a classroom course.
The hierarchy of the Discussions tool is:
CATEGORY (groups related topics)
TOPIC I (groups messages)
Message A (a unique discussion)
Reply A1 (connected to a message)
Reply A2a (connected to a reply)
You can create discussion categories to group similar or related discussion topics together. For example: You can create a category called Graded Topics that contains all the topics that Students will be graded on. After one category is created, any topics that are not assigned to a category appear under Uncategorized Topics.
Discussion topics allow you to create a forum where users can post messages to exchange ideas, thoughts, and questions on a particular subject.
There are three types of discussion topics:
Threaded: Create a threaded topic for a more traditional online discussion. Participants post and reply to messages. Replies that are associated with the same post are grouped together, creating message threads that can be expanded and collapsed.
Class blog: Create a collaborative blog (weblog) space by allowing participants to post a chronological series of entries on a particular topic. Participants can then add comments to any blog entry.
- Journal: Create a journal topic to give Students a place for their own writing. The journals can be kept private between the Student and the Section Instructor or shared with the class.
- create a topic and leave it uncategorized.
- create a topic in an existing category.
- create a topic and a category simultaneously.
TIP: You can also create a topic for a group of Students.
You can choose to:
- Grade your students' level of participation in the discussion.
- Establish goals for a specific topic.
- Enable students to review each others' messages (peer review).
- Set posting rules, such as allowing students to reply to existing messages but not create new messages.
- Lock a topic to prevent students from posting messages to the topic once the discussion activity has concluded.
- Identify users by their names or keep them anonymous.
If the course contains a discussion topic that is gradable, you can evaluate each Student's activity in that topic and assign a grade. You can assess the quality of messages posted by each Student. You can also compare the Student's level of participation in the topic to the rest of the class. Grades assigned to Students in Discussions are automatically entered in a corresponding column in Grade Book.
For a threaded topic, there are a series of messages on the same subject with the originating message listed first, followed by replies to that message. An unthreaded discussion consists of messages that are listed in chronological order.
You can copy or move a message thread from one discussion topic to another. Moreover, if you want to prevent users from replying to a message, you can lock the message thread. Users can still view the message thread, but they cannot reply to the message or forward it to other users. You can only lock one thread at a time, or you can lock the entire topic to prevent messages from being posted to once the discussion activity has concluded.