Using Discussions in a Course

Discussion Modules allow students and instructors to interact, by the instructor posting a discussion topic, and students can reply to the instructor and other students with comments. Its goal is more of a targeted group discussion rather than a long thread style forum.  This is an excellent way to foster group communication and exchange thoughts about a topic. You have the option to use this discussion for grading purposes, and with that, are able to set a minimum number of comments a student must submit before the module is marked as complete. 

In this guide, we will be going through how to create a Discussion Module and add it to a Course, as well as what the student experience of the module is, and how an instructor can evaluate the discussion comments. 

Note: Discussion Modules must be added to a Course, and can only be used by Students enrolled in that Course. They cannot be operated as standalone forums. 

In this article

Creating a Discussion Module

Now that you know what the purpose of a Discussion Module is, let's go through how to create one. 

  1. From the Admin Dashboard, select Courses, then Discussion under the Modules header
  2. Click + Create Discussion Module
  3. Enter the Name of this module
  4. Add a Brief Description: The Brief Description area is where the Course instructor poses a discussion topic for the students to review. A student cannot post their own discussion topic.
    The text editor does allow for content formatting, as well as custom HTML to make it look and feel however you'd like. You can even embed images, videos, or social media posts to enhance your discussion.
  5. Set Discussion Grading: Once your discussion topic is in place, you can set your grading options for the Module. You can set the maximum points value for the topic, which you can use to evaluate your student's response.
    1. There is also an option to include the discussion in the overall grading of the Course. Selecting yes will add this discussion to the other Quiz, Assignment, and SCORM Modules that will be averaged together to give a student their final grade for the Course.
    2. If you choose to include the Module in your grading, you will have the option to set a minimum number of comments made by the student before the Module can be marked as completed.
    3. If the module is included in grading, the discussion response will be included on the Pending Submissions area of the Admin Dashboard for you to evaluate
  6. Click Save Module when you're done

Then, we want to make sure the module is made available in a course. Once the module has been saved, you can add it to a Course using the steps below.

Adding a Discussion Module to a Course

Now that your module has been created, you can add it to the Course or Courses so that it is accessible to students:

  1. From the Admin Dashboard, choose Courses, then All Courses
  2. Find the Course you want to add the Module to, and click the three-dot action menu. Select Edit
  3. Click the Step 2: Curriculum tab
  4. Click "Add Module" and then opt to "Select an existing module from the list"
    1. Search the drop-down menu for your Module name, and select it.
    2. Once the Module is added to the bottom of your course list, you have the option of entering the Edit Module page to make changes to its content or removing the module from the course.
  5. Click and drag the modules to rearrange them in the order they should be presented in the course. This involves placing the modules in a suitable order along with the sections if used.
  6. You have the option to:
    1.  Lock the Module, which forces a student to complete it before being able to move on to the next module in the course
    2. Set the availability of the Module, which allows you set a date when the module will be available to a student.  This gives an Admin or Instructor the control to make modules available to students over time or to restrict a student from completing the course too quickly.
    3. You can also set a minimum amount time spent in the module that the student must abide by in the Module before being allowed to move on to the next module. 
  7. Save your course changes by clicking Update Course in the upper right corner. If you get distracted or navigate to another section of the platform, changes may not be saved if you do not update before leaving a page you have made changes to.

Please see this guide for the full details of Creating and Updating a Course.

Student Experience of Discussion Module

Let's go over what students will see in the Discussion Module of your Course.

  1. Inside the module, the students will see the discussion topic, as well as other responses from students. They can create their own response and then click Post Comment to have it posted for others to read and for you to evaluate. 
  2. At the bottom of the Module is the Comments area, where all of the comments made by your students will be shared publicly. Students will have the option to both comment on the instructor's topic as well as reply to each other, as all comments are visible to everyone in the Course.

Evaluating Student Discussion Comments

Once a student submits a response on the Discussion Module, you'll be able to evaluate their response if you have set the module to be graded. When viewing the submission, you will see the name of your Module, the original discussion topic, and your student's comments. 

  1. When a student submits a Discussion response for a graded module, you'll be notified on your Admin Dashboard
  2. You can also view all Discussion submissions for a specific Course by going to the Admin Dashboard, select Courses, then All Courses
    1. Find the Course you want to evaluate and click the three-dot action menu. Choose Submissions. You are then able to see all Pending Submissions for that Course, and are also able to filter by Type (Discussion or Assignment) and search by student name. 
  3. Find the student and submission you want to evaluate and click the Evaluate link.
  4. Read the student's comments, enter your response, and award a point value
  5. Click Evaluate Submission