Discussions | How to set restrictions for Discussion Forum and Topic

Restrictions can be used to limit access of students to Discussion Topics and Forums. For example by having the requirement of having completed another part of the course first. Restricting forums or topics enables you to create discussion areas where members of a group or section can collaborate on assignments or discuss course materials in small groups. You can also use create separate forums for specific groups or sections in a course offering.

In this article you learn how to set restrictions for a Discussion Forum or a Discussion Topic.

Please be aware that setting restrictions for both a Forum and a Topic is a similar process.

1. Click on Communication in the navbar of the course

2. Click on Discussions; this will open the Discussions homepage, which shows all current discussions created for the course

Communication - Discussion

In the Discussions homepage, the Discussions List tab enables you to create a New Forum or a New Topic. Based on what you want to make a restriction on, choose either one of these options. For the sake of demonstration, this article will show how to set restrictions for a New Forum. Keep in mind, though, that the exact same steps can be undertaken if you want to set restrictions for a New Topic.

3. For now, click on New Forum.

Discussions homepage - New forum

4. In the New Forum menu that appears, you will land in the tab Properties. Next to it you will see tab Restrictions:

New Forum page - tab Restrictions

To fill in your preferences, click on Restrictions. Here you can more specifically indicate access settings for your Forum.

You can only move to the Restrictions tab if you have included a title for your discussion forum.

More information how to create a Discussion forum: How to create a Discussion Forum

Types of restrictions for a Discussion Forum

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 forum - Restrictions tab
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. Availability
Availability settings

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

  1. Has Start Date - you can set a start date and time for the topic
  2. Has End Date - you can set an end date and time for the topic
  3. Different options are possible when setting a Start/End Date:
    • Visible with access restricted before/after start/end: the topic is visible to students  before/after the start/end date, but they cannot access it
    • Visible with submission restricted before/afterstart/end: the topic is visible to students before/after the start/end date and they can access it, but they cannot post new threads or replies. This effectively makes a discussion read-only
    • Hidden before/after start/end: the topic is hidden from learners until the start/end date. Calendar events for Availability Starts and Availability Ends are hidden until the start/end date. Notifications are also not sent until the start/end date.
  4. Display in Calendar - you can select whether you want these availability dates to appear in the course Calendar
3. 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

4. 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

Once you have filled out all your preferences:

5. click on Save and Close if you want to leave the discussion forum. If you want to add a discussion topic to your forum, click on Save and Add Topic.

Discussion Forum - Save

You now know how to set restrictions for a Discussion Forum or Topic!

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