The Discussions tool allows instructors or site leaders to create an unlimited number of discussion forums, and is integrated closely with other tools such as Resources and Gradebook.
A Forum is a mandatory category or grouping for topics. Topics, which are created within forums, are where participants can post conversations. A Conversation is the thread of messages in which participants post their contributions. A conversation can be created by instructors or students inside of a topic.
Some the features in the Discussions tool include the following:
- Grading: Interactions can be assigned a point value and sent to the Gradebook with comments.
- Availability dates: Forums and topics can be released according to specified dates.
- Moderation: Instructors can choose to moderate messages posted to topics.
- Counts of unread posts at a glance: On a site Home or Overview page, unread forum posts can be displayed. From Home, the total unread forum posts for all associated sites can be displayed.
- Email notifications: Site members can elect to receive no email notification, notification for all new postings in a site, or notification for responses to conversations they've posted in. The default is to receive notifications about new postings in conversations to which you have contributed.
- Statistics: Discussions statistics are available for site owners to determine the participation level of individual participants. Individual participant posts can also be read using Forum statistics.
- Post before reading option: The site owner (or another participant with the appropriate role) can enable participants to submit their posts to a topic before they have permission to read the responses of others.
- Group awareness: Site leaders can change forum and topic settings in combination with predefined groups to allow or deny access to specific discussions per group.
- Direct link to individual messages: Site leaders can copy a direct link to individual messages to use elsewhere.
- Composing messages: A Rich Text Editor allows rich text, plain text, and HTML editing. You can add attachments to any message by linking to files or web links in Resources.
- Quoted text: Use the Insert Original Text option to insert the previous post into a response.
- Email the author of a message: Site leaders can directly email the author of a posting from within the Forums tool.
Note: A forum with the name of the site and a topic titled "General Discussion" are created by default.