Creating Discussions in Brightspace

The Discussion tool can be used to encourage users to share thoughts on course material with both instructors and their peers. Creating forums and topics in Brightspace is an effective way for users to ask questions, discuss course content and assignments, and work together in assigned groups and sections. 

On this page:

Discussion Tool Uses

Some uses of the Discussion tool include but are not limited to:

  • Creating a collaboration area to post, read and reply to threads on different topics.
  • Share thoughts about course materials.
  • Create journal entries, ask questions.
  • Share files.
  • Work with peers on assignments and homework. 

Discussion Forums

A Discussion Forum provides students with an opportunity to participate in virtual conversations at any time and any location. The Discussion Forum is a heading or category that a Discussion Topic will be under. Students cannot write directly in the forum, they must create a topic thread in order to have a discussion post.

Your course can have multiple forums and topics, but you must create a forum before you create a topic, as topics belong for forums. 

Discussion Topics

The Discussion Topic is where you state what is to be discussed. Once the topic is created, your students will then reply by starting a thread (see below). Topics cannot be created as without a forum. You must designate what forum your topic is to reside in.

Discussion Threads

A Discussion Thread is a response to a topic. When a student posts their response to a topic, it will start a thread. This allows the instructor and other students to react to what they have said.

Editing Discussion Forums or Topics

Editing a discussion forum gives you the ability to change the forum name, availability and locking options, release conditions, and group and section restrictions. Editing a discussion topic gives you the ability to reassign the topic to a different forum, rename the topic, and change the availability and locking options, restrictions, assessment options, and associated learning objectives.

Add Restrictions to Discussion Forums or Topics

The Restrictions tab allows you to create conditions for the availability and/or visibility of discussion forums in the following ways:

  • Hide from users: Hides the forum or topic from students' view. 
  • Availability: Establish a start and/or end date for the timeframe a forum/topic is visible for students.
  • Release Conditions: Create rules and conditions to make a forum  available .
  • Group and Section Restrictions: Restrict a forum to specific groups of students or to make a discussion forum a journal for individual students.

Best Practices for Discussions

  • Ensure that there are discussion topics created for your discussion forums 
    • Forums are used to group topics into predetermined themes, course units, etc. You can only post in discussion topics. If there are no topics created for a forum, then students will not be able to participate in discussions.
  • Ensure that discussion forums and topics are not unintentionally hidden 
    • The option to hide a discussion forum or topic is located on the Discussion List page, in the context menu for each forum or topic. The Hidden icon appears beside any topics or forums that are currently hidden. 
    • Forums and topics can also be hidden on the New Forum or New Topic page (or the Edit page for existing forums and topics), in the Restrictions tab's Availability section.
    • If you selected Hide this [topic or forum], then learners cannot see it. If a discussion forum has this setting enabled, all of the topics nested under it are also hidden.
  • Ensure that there are no unwanted date restrictions set for the discussion forum or topic
    • Students cannot access topics that fall outside of set date restrictions. If a discussion forum has date restrictions attached, then all topics nested under it will be hidden outside of those date restrictions.The option to set date restrictions is located on the New Forum or New Topic page (or the Edit page for existing forums and topics), in the Restrictions tab Availability section.
  • Ensure that the appropriate group restriction settings are applied
    • If group restrictions are enabled for the discussion forum or topic, then only students within the group selected can see the discussion.
    • The option to set group restrictions is located on the New Forum or New Topic page (or the Edit page for existing forums and topics), in the Restrictions tab of the Group and Section Restrictions section. Select Restrict this forum to the following groups and sections to enable group restrictions for a forum or topic.

Additional Resources