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Just as it is critical to plan and structure your course content, you need to provide structure for online discussions.
The main discussion board page displays a list of forums. A forum is an area where participants discuss a topic or a group of related topics. Within each forum, participants can create multiple threads. A thread includes the initial post and all replies to it.
Discussions appear sequentially so all course members can follow the conversation.
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The discussion board is commonly accessed from the course menu, although you can provide a link to it in another course area, such as in a content area.
The Discussion Board page contains a list of all the forums you have created. You must first create one or more forums before users can start message threads.
On the action bar, create forums and search for discussion board content. By default, the search field appears collapsed to save screen space.
- To sort a column, click the column heading. For example, if you sort the Forum column, the items appear in alphabetical or reverse alphabetical order.
- To view the posts, click the forum title. Forum titles in bold contain unread posts.
- For each forum, view the total number of posts, the number of unread posts, and the number of users who have participated in the forum. For one-click access to the forum's unread messages, click the link in the Unread Posts column.
When you access a forum, a list of threads appears.
- When possible, use the orientation bar to navigate to a previous page. Do not use the browser navigation controls because page load errors may occur.
- Use the action bar functions to create threads, grade forum contributions, collect threads, and search content.
- Select multiple threads' check boxes or select the check box in the header row to select all threads for an action, such as deleting.
- Click a thread title to read the posts. Titles in bold contain unread posts.
- View a forum with threads appearing in a list -OR- in a tree view with all posts listed following each thread title.
When you view the thread page, all posts and the thread description appear on one page. Thread descriptions are often used as prompts for discussion, so they are now visible where users are posting. Large images of course members help you easily identify authors.
To help make replying easy, the content editor appears immediately below the message you are replying to. You can refer to any post on the page.
- Use Expand All and Collapse All to manage the visibility of posts on the page.
- Move your mouse pointer anywhere on the page and action bar functions appear at the top, such as Search and Refresh.
- Click the number of unread posts to view a page containing only the unread posts in a thread. Use the arrow buttons to navigate to other threads in the forum.
- When viewing threads, a badge appears next to a forum manager or moderator's name. Point to the badge to see the user’s course role and forum role. If your institution has custom roles, they are displayed. Role highlighting is available only in the discussion board.
- View dates for posts, which appear as relative dates, such as "7 days ago." When you point to the relative date, you can view the absolute date of creation or editing, and the number of views.
- Mark posts as read as you scroll down the page, after a slight delay. Blue icon = unread. White icon = read. Only expanded posts that you view onscreen are marked as read. Posts are not automatically marked read by quickly scrolling down the page. Click the icon to manually change the status of a message. You can also flag posts you want to review again later or indicate as important.
- Point to a post to see Reply, Quote, Expand/Collapse, and other available functions. Click Collapse to fold up a post. This increases the vertical screen space available for viewing posts.
- If you enabled the rate posts feature in a forum's settings, view the Overall Rating for the average rating for a post. When you point to the rating area, it changes to show Your Rating.