D2L Discussions

Discussions are your course message boards, organized into forums and topics. Forums provide a collaborative space for student-to-student learning and for you and students to communicate asynchronously. The student posts at the topic level.  Multiple topics can be added to a forum.  This allows for engagement in higher-level thinking.  Images and other media, such as YouTube videos, podcasts, and URL links can be posted besides text.

Video Walkthroughs

Discussions Guide

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Useful Terms

Forums: Organize your discussion topics into categories. For example, enter Unit 1 for the title. There’s a checkbox to allow you to create a new topic in the forum with the same title.  This is a quick way to create the discussion board.  Edit topic to change the topic title.  Note:  Students cannot post directly in a forum.

Topics: Discussions in a forum. For example, under Unit 1, you can have a Topic called Reading 1 and another Topic called Reading 2.  Topics and can be set up as private or public.

Thread: Refers to a row of posts or comments under a Topic. Students click on New Thread when posting a response to your discussion prompt under the discussion topic.  

Discussion List: Provides the options to add Forums and Topics. You can also view a list of all the existing Forums and Topics.  This opens by default when the user selects Discussions under the Communication navbar.

Subscriptions: Decide how you will receive notifications about activity in Forums and Topics. If you subscribe to a forum, you will see an alert show up in the minibar. 

Group and Section Restrictions: View and edit all the restrictions to Forums and Topics for specific groups.  It is recommended to create the group first and then associate the group to the discussion board under the Edit Topic Properties tab.

Statistics: Allows you to view and export students’ activity in discussion threads to a CSV file. You can view user statistics by individual or by groups and filter by users or topics.  The topic statistics include total threads, total replies, pinned threads and unapproved posts.  Forum statistics include total threads (all forums), total replies (all forums), pinned threads and unapproved posts.

Creating Discussion Forums

  1. Select Discussions under Communication on the main navigation bar. By default, the Discussion List page will open.
  1. Click on New and select New Forum from the dropdown menu.
  2. On the New Forum page, enter the information and settings for the Forum using the Properties Tab.
    Discussion Forum Properties Tab:
    Disscusion forum properties

    Enter a name for the forum title [1]. Automatically create a topic with the same name as the title [2].  Enter a description which will be visible from the Discussions List [3].  Anonymous posts cannot be evaluated [4].  Instructor must approve posts before they are public [5]. For an authentic response, enable Users must start a thread before they can read and reply to other threads in each topic.  This step can also be done at the topic level so the entire forum does not have this enabled [6].  Display forum description in topics [7].  Save and Close (saves and returns to Discussions page), Save and Add Topic (saves and opens New Topic page), Save (saves and user remains on the same page) [8].
  1. In the Restrictions tab, it is possible to set up release conditions for the forum. A student must complete a task in D2L before having access to the Forum.  Under the Group and Section Restrictions you can also decide who in your class has access to this Forum. For example, if you have students working in groups and you want only members of that group working on this Forum to have access to it. 
    By default, the forum is always visible. However, you can hide the discussion by clicking the Hide from Users checkbox [1].  The availability allows you to hide the forum during a specific time period [2].  The default is set to be visible with submission restricted before the start date and visible but no longer accessible after end date.  Manage release conditions allows you to force the student to complete an activity (e.g., submit to dropbox) before posting to a discussion topic [3].  Give access to specific groups or sections [4].  Note: You can restrict the discussion to a group under the Properties tab > Topic Type. Save and Close [5] (saves and returns to Discussions page), Save and Add Topic (saves and opens New Topic page), Save (saves and user remains on the same page).

 

Creating Topics

A topic must be assigned to a forum for a discussion board to be complete.  Multiple topics can be assigned to a forum.  The discussion prompt should be created at the topic level.  Threads are created and assessed at the topic level.

  1. Select Discussions under Communication on the main navigation bar. By default, the Discussion List page will open.
  1. Click on New and select New Topic from the dropdown menu.
  • Discussion Topic Properties Tab:

    Click the dropdown menu to select the forum to which it should be associated.  If one was not created, click [New Forum] [1].  By default, the topic is open to everyone.  Select the second radio button, if the topic is restricted to a specific group or section [2].  Enter a topic title [3].  Enter a description for the topic [4].  Under Options, if you select allow anonymous posts, you will not be able to grade the discussion board.  The author of the post will display as “Anonymous” [5].  A moderator must approve posts in this topic before they display to users [6].  The student is required to post in the topic before viewing or replying to other students [7].  It is optional to rate posts in three different ways: Five-Star (allows user to assign each post a score out of 5), Up Vote/Down Vote (allows user to move posts up or down in rank), Up Vote Only (allows user to move up posts up in rank).  By default, the setting is No Ratings which hides all rating controls from the student [8]. Save and Close [9] (saves and returns the user to the Discussions page), Save and New (saves and creates a new topic) and Save (saves and user remains on the same page).
  • Restrictions tabRestrictions tab: Attach existing or create and attach conditions which allows you to establish release conditions for the topic.  That is, a student must complete a task in D2L, such as completing a quiz, before having access to the topic.  Under the Group and Section Restrictions you can also decide who in your class has access to the topic. Save your changes.

  • assessmentAssessment: Allows you to associate the discussion topic with a Grade Item, assign a score, and add a rubric (optional). You can also assess individual posts in the topic by selecting a calculation method from the dropdown list (optional). 

    Rubric vs. Assess Individual Posts

    • If you choose to use a rubric, DO NOT check the option to allow assessment of individual posts. If both are engaged, the system will use the individual posts for scoring. 
    If you choose assessment of individual posts, check the box to include unassessed individual posts in the calculated topic score as zero. If this is not selected, the unassessed individual posts will not be included in the topic score calculation. See Assessing Topic section for further details on calculation options. Save your changes.

Assigning an Assessment Method to a Topic

Rubric

  • Add a rubric. (If you decide to use this method, it is not necessary to check Allow assessment of individual posts).  Assessing with a rubric will automatically populate the topic score.

Individual Assessment

  • Various calculation methods are available to assess individual posts (optional):
      • Average post score: Averages all of the post scores included per student.
      • Maximum post score: Identifies the highest score of all the post scores included per student.
      • Minimum post score: Identifies the lowest score of all the post scores included per student.
      • Mode post score - Highest on multiple: Looks at the frequency of scores on posts, then selects the highest occurrence of a score per student. Once it picks the frequency, the system looks to see if multiple scores occur at that frequency. If not, it assigns that score to the user. If there are multiple scores with the same frequency, it will choose the highest of those scores. For example, if a score of 7 occurs 2 times, a score of 8 occurs 3 times, and a score of 9 occurs 3 times, the system will choose the frequency 3 and the score of 9.
      • Mode post score - Lowest on multiple: Looks at the frequency of scores on posts, then selects the highest occurrence of a score per student. Once it picks the frequency, the system looks to see if multiple scores occur at that frequency. If not, it assigns that score to the user. If there are multiple scores with the same frequency, it will choose the lowest of those scores. For example, if a score of 7 occurs 2 times, a score of 8 occurs 3 times, and a score of 9 occurs 3 times, the system will choose the frequency 3 and the score of 8.
      • Sum of post scores – Sums up all the scores on posts within a topic.
    • Include unassessed posts in the calculated topic score as zero – Check this box only if you want unassessed posts included in the topic score.

Learning Objectives

  • Objectives (Optional): Allows you to associate learning objectives with the topic.
    Note: The learning objectives must be created first under Assessments > Competencies and New > Learning Objective for a listing to appear when you are ready to associate.  Also, a learning competency structure will need to be created for the objective. (Select Competency under Competency Home page).
    Disscussion objectives
    Once the Competency is created, it can be associated with its children (learning objectives).  Check the boxes for making the competency and its children visible to learners and allowing re-evaluation of learners who have achieved the competency.  Click Save or Save and New (to save and create a new competency).
    Competency

Add a Discussion Topic to a module via Content

 

add topic through conyent

  1. Click on Content in the main navigation bar [1].  Click on the module where you would like to add your discussion Topic [2].  Click on the New button and select New Discussion from the dropdown menu or select Add Existing Activities and select Discussions [3].
  2. If you selected New Discussion, you will be directed to a new page to create the discussion topic and forum.  Click on Save.
    Disscussion content
  3. Enter a title for the Discussion [1].  If no forums exist, create a new forum for the topic [2].  Deselect the box if you would like the discussion board visible to students [3].  Enter a discussion prompt and other instructions [4].  Click Save.  Dates and restrictions and grade item can then be added under Activity Details.

Viewing the Discussion Threads

D2L offers two viewing options when you’re looking at your students’ posts in a topic:

  • Reading View: It’s the default viewing option. Messages display individually.
    Reading view
  • Grid View: Posts and replies are displayed in form of a list (i.e., thread) in a topic. The Printable view is available when you use the Grid View.
    Grid view
  • Note: Students also have the option to change the view, if they wish to do so.

To change from the Reading View to the Grid View:

  1. Disscussion settingsSelect Discussions under Communication on the main navigation bar.
  2. Click on Settings on the right-hand side of the screen.
  3. Select Grid View radio button under Default View and click Save.
    Deleted posts show up in gray and crossed out the Message List.
    A list of all the discussion forums and topics appears on the left-hand side of your screen.
  1. Scroll down the page to edit the Grid View Settings. Note: No matter which view you select in your settings, you can toggle between the views using the dropdown list.

Grid view settings

Check to display a topic’s description in the Message List (i.e., the list of posts under that topic) (optional) [1]. Threaded posts are grouped together with their replies in the Message List. Unthreaded posts are sorted by author, date, or subject [2]. Show the preview pane allows the user to open all posts in a preview pane or clear it to open all posts in pop-up windows. This splits the screen showing the Message List on the top and the selected post at the bottom. Show the search bar option displays a search bar to search for posts (optional) [3]. Check to display the Post ID with the Message List or Org Defined ID to display the students’ MU ID on the Message List (optional) [4]. Character Limit allows you to display a limited number of characters of each post’s subject to save screen space. Enter the maximum number of characters to display in the post (optional) [5]. Click Save after making your selections [6].

Posting to a Discussion Topic

  1. Select Discussions under Communication on the main navigation bar.  By default, the Discussion List page will open.
  2. Click on the title of the topic name or select View Topic from the dropdown menu.
  3. Select Start a New Thread.
  4. Enter the subject and response in the text box.  Attachments can be added.  Multimedia can also be inserted using the editor's Insert Stuff, Image or Quicklink.  Select Pin thread checkbox if you would like it pinned to the top of the discussion.
  5. Click Post.

 discussions post

Use @mention to alert users to a specific topic

Instructors and students can use the @mention to tag each other in a discussion post. The user must be in the same course and have access to the topic. The individual is notified by an alert (orange dot) on the discussion icon in the minibar. If a user was mentioned in error, editing the discussion post to remove the @mention will not remove it from the alert minibar.

@mention alert

  • The @mention alert is tied to the user's access to that discussion topic. An orange dot should appear in the minibar at the top of the page to alert the user.

 

  1. Click on the topic name.
  2. Click the Start a New Thread button or Reply to Thread button or reply to an individual.
  3. In the text box, type @ and the first few letters of the user's name. The system will bring up a suggestion. Select the name.
  4. Type the message in the text box.
  5. Click Post.
  6. The @mention name appears as a link. When clicked, the user's profile page will display.

Editing and Deleting Discussion Forums and Topics

Editing a Discussion Forum or Topic:

  1. Select Discussions under Communication on the main navigation bar.  By default, the Discussion List page will open.
  2. Click on the dropdown menu next to the name of the Forum or the Topic.
  3. Select Edit Topic or Edit Forum (depending on which one you’re editing).
    Edit discussion
  4. Once you’re done editing, click on Save and Close.

Deleting a Discussion Forum or Topic:

  1. Click on Discussions on the Main Navigation Bar.
  2. Discussions List opens by default.
  3. Click the dropdown menu next to the name of the Forum or the Topic.
  4. Select Delete.

Deleting a Thread:

  1. Click on Discussions on the Main Navigation Bar.
  2. Discussions List opens by default.
  3. Click on the Topic where the Thread you want to delete is located.
  4. Click the dropdown menu next to the name of the Thread you want to delete.
  5. Select Delete Thread from the dropdown menu.

Note: When you delete a Thread, the system also deletes any replies to that Thread. The same happens if you delete a Post within a Thread.

Assessing Topics

Assess Topic

  • The discussion topic must be associated to a grade item (in the Assessment tab Edit Topic) for the option to Assess Topic to be displayed in the drop-down menu.

Steps to Assess a Topic

  1. Select Discussions under Communication on the main navigation bar. By default, the Discussion List page will open.
  2. Click the dropdown menu next to the name of the Topic and select Assess Topic.
    Note: If you enabled a moderator, you must approve individual posts and select Approve Threads before assessing students via Assess Topic. 
  1. Topic scoreClick on Topic Score beneath each user’s name. This opens a window where you can see the student’s posts at the top of the page [1].
  2. Assign a score or use a rubric to update score automatically and add any written feedback [2,3].
  1. Check the box next to Publish to export grade automatically to the grade book or save draft and more on to the next student by clicking on the arrow [5]. 
  2. Click Save.

Publish feedbackNote: You can choose Publish after scoring each user or you can click on the Publish All Feedback after you’re done scoring all the users.  It’s best practice to publish after grading all students.