Discussion Overview and Best Practices
Use the Discussions tool in your course to encourage users to share thoughts on course material with their peers. You can set up forums and topics for users to ask questions, discuss course content and assignments, and work together in assigned groups and sections.
Best Practices for Using Discussions
- Ensure that there are discussion topics created for your discussion forum(s)
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.
On the course home page, select "Communication" > "Discussions". Make sure that there are topics nested under the discussion forum. If you do not see topics nested under the discussion forum(s), you must create topics.
- Ensure that discussion forums and topics are not unintentionally hidden
The option to hide a discussion forum or topic is located on the "New Forum" or "New Topic" page (or the "Edit page" for existing forums and topics), in the Properties tab of the Availability section.
If you selected "Hide this [topic or forum]", then learners are not able to 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 Properties tab of the Availability section. Select the Forum is visible for a specific date range check box, then fill out your start and end dates. If you want the forum or topic to be currently visible, ensure that the End Date has not passed yet and the Start Date has already begun; if you want it to be available at a later time, set the date restrictions accordingly.
If you do not want date restrictions enabled, select [Forum/Topic] is always visible.
- 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.
Suggested Best Practices for Course Content Discussions
- Create interesting discussion prompts and cues that promote peer exchange and feedback.
- Discussions should encourage interaction between students rather than individual responses from the instructor.
- Instructors should post when
- Students are not following the assignment.
- Students are dominating the discussion.
- Students are not following the rules of netiquette.
- A summary of the discussion thread is needed.
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