How to create a Discussion Topic

This article will explain how you can create a discussion topic. These topics make up the content of a discussion forum. A topic has to be created for students to be able to interact.

Adding a new topic in a Discussion Forum

In the Discussion homepage under Discussions List tab:

  1. click on the blue button New. This will give you two options:
    • New Forum - choose this option if you want to create a new forum
    • New Topic - click on this option if you only want to create a new topic

2. As we want to add a new topic, click on New Topic.

Now a New Topic page appears where you can edit the settings of the topic.

3. Choose a Forum or create a new one

4. Select the Topic Type

5. Give the discussion topic a Title

6. Click Save

Every discussion topic needs to be assigned to a forum, and every topic needs to have at least a title. If this is not the case, it is impossible for you to move to the Restrictions tab.

You have successfully created a new discussion topic!

Optional settings

When you are creating a New Topic, you can setup additional functions and features. These can be also edited at a later stage.

At the top of the New Topic page you will see 4 tabs:

New Topic page - tabs

1. Properties tab

In the Properties tab you will be able to optionally add descriptions, setup posting style, and choose rating for posts:

1.1. Description

This area can be used to include information about the purpose or goal of the topic. If you attach the topic to the Content of the course, this description will be visible there.

1.2. Options

Indicate what general options you want to have accounted for.

  • Allow anonymous posts; the option to have users respond to your discussion anonymously
  • A moderator must approve individual posts before they display in the topic; install an extra review step to monitor individual responses and filter out those responses that you find to be irrelevant
  • Users must start a thread before they can read and reply to other threads; allow students to only start up a thread once they have shown activity in the threads of others
1.3. Rate Posts

Assign a value and order to the posts that are sent in. There are four options for rating:

  • No Ratings; choose this option if you want to have the posts equally valued
  • Five-Star Rating Scheme; user posts can score on a scale 1-5, 5 points being the highest score that a post can receive
  • Up Vote/Down Vote Rating Scheme; enable users to influence post ratings by a system of both up- and downward voting
  • Up Vote Only Rating Scheme; enable users to increase a post's rating by a system of upward voting

2. Restrictions tab

In the tab Restrictions you can choose the availability of the topic, whether you want to hide the topic from student completely, or lock it for certain period, or choose a release condition based on which the topic becomes available.

Discussion topic - Restrictions tab
2.1. Hide from users

You have the option to hide the topic from the users. You can do so by ticking the Selectbox.

The default setting when you are creating a topic is for the topic to be visible.

2.2. Availability

The next optional setting that appears in your menu is Availability:

  • Has Start Date - you can set a start date and time for the topic
  • Has End Date - you can set an end date and time for the topic
  • Display in Calendar - you can select whether you want these availability dates to appear in the course Calendar
2.3. Locking Options

The last menu in the Properties tab is Locking Options:

  • Unlock topic - choose this option if you want to have the topic always free for your students.
  • Lock topic- lock the topic for your students. This way they are now not able to enter/respond to the topic.
  • Unlock topic for a specific date range - if you want the topic only to be accessible for a certain period, you can click this option and set a start and end date.
2.4. Release conditions

You can choose a condition by which the topic will be released to your students.

Attach existing release conditions to the discussion forum, or create a new one in this tab. By adding release conditions, you for example have the option to only make available the discussion forum to those students that already finished another task.

  • If you have already created Release Conditions and want to simply add those to the Discussion Forum, click on Attach Existing
  • If you do not already have Release Conditions, click on Create and Attach
  • If, after setting up the Release Conditions, you do not want to have them installed after all, click Remove All Conditions

More information on release conditions: What are Release Conditions and how to use them

2.5. Group and Section Restrictions

You are able to release a certain discussion forum to a specific target group only, thus specifying your audience based on the discussion forum subject. This may be a convenient feature when you have multiple groups that are all working on a different topic.

  • If you want to have the group restriction enabled, click on Restrict this forum to the following groups and sections and select the preferred group by clicking on Add groups and Sections

More information on groups: How to create a Group

3. Assessment tab

In the assessment tab you are able to create an evaluation scheme for your activity; you can add a grade item and/or a rubric.

Discussion topic - Assessment tab
3.1. Grade Item

Choose from the list of grade items you already have created or create a new grade item for the topic directly from this point.

More information on grade items: How to set up a Grade Item

3.2. Score Out Of

Add a Score Out Of if you wish to have a specific grading scale for the activity in this topic.

3.3. Rubrics

You can attach a Rubric to a topic for the evaluation, or you can create one for this topic directly from this point.

View a video on how to attach a rubric to a discussion topic here.

More information on rubrics:  How to create a rubric

3.4. Posts

In this field you can select how you are going to evaluate the posts in the topic. Selecting the option Allow assessment of individual posts allows instructors to assess posts in the topic. Each user's topic score is calculated using the method selected from the Calculation drop-down list:

  • Average post score
  • Maximum post score
  • Minimum post score
  • Mode post score - Hightest on multiple
  • Mode post score - Lowest on multiple
  • Sum of post scores

If you select one of these you will be able to edit the option Include unassessed posts in the calculated topic score as zero. Selecting this option will include unassessed posts in the topic score calculation as zero. If this option is not selected, unassessed posts will not be included in the topic score calculation.

4. Objectives tab

When you associate a topic with learning objectives you are able to measure a user's mastery of skills, abilities, and knowledge. You can use a rubric to evaluate a user's success at meeting the learning objective.

You must have learning objectives created before you can link them to discussion topics. For further detail you can review the information of D2L on the topic here.

Discussion topic - Objectives tab

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