eConestoga Discussion Forums enable your students to share their thoughts about topics related to your course. Discussions can be used informally to let students introduce themselves or ask you questions, or more formally as a graded discussion.

eConestoga Discussions are organized three levels: Forums, Topics, and Threads.

  • A Forum is a container for one or more Topics. Only instructors can create Forums.
  • A Topic is a discussion area where students and instructors can post. Only instructors can create Topics.
  • A Thread is an initial post made within a Topic by any student or instructor. Other users can then Reply to the Thread.

Create a Forum

You can think of a Forum as a folder that contains one or more Topics. If you aren't sure how to organize your Discussion Forums, a good starting approach is to create one for Ungraded Discussions (e.g., "Questions for the Instructor") and another for Graded Discussions (e.g., "Week 7 Discussion").

  1. Go to Course Tools -> Discussions.
  2. Click New -> New Forum.
  3. Enter a Title for the Forum, and a Description if you feel that your students would benefit from some context about the Topics that will exist in that Forum.
  4. There are a number of additional options on the Properties tab and on the Restrictions tab-- in most cases, you should not set any of these options. Instead, wait to set the same options on specific Discussion Topics.
  5. When you're finished, click Save and Close at the bottom of the scren.

Video: Create a Discussion Forum

Create a Topic

A Topic is the main area in which students make their posts.

  1. Go to Course Tools -> Discussions.
  2. Click New -> New Topic.
  3. Choose the Forum that the new Topic should reside within.
  4. Enter a Title for the Topic.
  5. In the Description field, enter the instructions for your students. E.g.,
    • Is there a question you want them to answer, or a subject you wish for them to talk about?
    • Are there minimum or maximum word counts that you wish for them to abide by?
    • Are the students required to reply to one or more classmates' Threads?
  6. Additional options on the Properties tab control how students can read and post:
    • Allow anonymous posts: If enabled, any student can choose to make their post anonymously (any student who does not select the option will make a normal post with their name attached). Neither you nor their classmates will be able to see the identity of an anonymous poster.
    • A moderator must approve individual posts: If enabled, you will be able to read all threads created by your students, but other students in the class will see only the posts you have manually approved.
    • Users must start a thread before they can read and reply: If enabled, students will initially not see any classmates' posts. Those posts will only appear after that student has made a new thread of their own.
  7. The Restrictions tab (at the top of the screen) contains options to limit when students can access the discussion.
    • Availability dates control when the discussion is visible to students. If set, students can't see the topic at all outside of the specified date range.
    • Locking dates control when students can post. If set, students can always read posts in the topic, but can only post and reply within the specified date range.
    • Group and Section Restrictions allow you restrict group members to only see posts made by their own group members. Note that you must build a set of groups before you will be able to enable the group restriction within a discussion topic.
  8. The Assessment tab contains options for grading the discussion.
    • Grade Item: Marks entered in the discussion will be transferred to the selected Grade Item.
    • Score Out Of: The maximum score a student can earn on the discussion topic.
    • Rubrics: If you have built a rubric to grade the discussion topic, you can connect it here.
  9. When you have configured all of the settings to your satisfaction, click Save and Close at the bottom of the screen.

Now that you have set up a discussion, you and your students can create new threads within it.

Video: Create a Discussion Topic