VIU Campus

Group and Private Discussions

In VIULearn, you can use the Discussions tool to allow students to engage in smaller more intimate group discussion. You can use the Discussion Tool:

  • Allow students to answer a general prompt in small groups.
  • Allow students to answer group-specific prompts.
  • Allow students to communicate with their other group members regarding a group project or presentation.
  • Create a private discussion between you and a single student

When setting up your group discussions, you first want to decide if you want to create one topic that all groups contribute to or if you want to create separate topics for each group. For students, both of these options will appear identical as students only see their own group's topics and posts. The decision whether to create one or multiple topics is entirely up to you, but there are some activities that are better suited to one option over the other. 

Use a Single, Threaded Topic when

  • all groups will have access to the discussion at the same time 
  • all groups are discussing the same subject, problem, or question
  • you want to connect the group discussion to a grade item in VIULearn

Use Separate Topics when 

  • you want to give groups different dates that they will be able to access and contribute to the discussion 
  • groups are discussing a different subject, problem, or question and you want to keep these discussions separated in your view as the instructor 

Create Group Discussions

  1. Select Communication. From the dropdown menu, select Discussions

  2. Click the New button. From the dropdown menu, select New Topic. 

  3. Give your Topic a name and choose which Forum to associate it to. 

  4. Underneath the Topic Type heading, click the checkbox next to the Group or section topic, everyone can access this topic but students only see threads from their own group or section text.

  5. Choose the Group Category you wish to assign the Discussion Topic. 

    If you have mapped your course shell together and there are multiple sections within your course shell, you can also choose to restrict the Discussion Topic so that students will only be able to see and reply to other students who are enrolled in the same section as them by clicking Section from the dropdown menu.

  6. Once you have finished editing click the blue Save and Close button.

In the Restrictions tab of the Discussion Forum or Topic, you can choose to add Group and Section Restrictions. Group and Section Restrictions will mean that only the specific group(s) or section(s) assigned to that Forum/Topic will be able to access, read, and post to that Forum/Topic. 

This method is ideal if you would like each individual group or section to have a different discussion question or prompt. If students will be responding to the same discussion question or prompt, it is recommended that you use a Group or Section Topic Type. This way, you only have to check for student responses in one location. 

  1. Select Communication. From the dropdown menu, select Discussions

  2. Click the New button. From the dropdown menu, select either New Forum or New Topic. 

  3. Give your Forum or Topic a name. If you have created a Discussion Topic, choose which Forum to associate it to. 

  4. Click the Restrictions tab.

  5. Click the checkbox next to Restrict this topic to the following groups and sections.

  6. Click the Add Groups and Sections button. 

  7. Choose the Group Category or Section in question by clicking on the Group or Section Category input field. 

  8. Click the checkbox next to the specific group(s) or section(s) you would like to have access to this Discussion Forum/Topic.

  9. Click the Add button.

  10. Once you have finished editing, click the Save and Close button.

Create Private Discussions

You can use groups and discussions to create private journals or personal learning reflection areas for students. The steps below will walk you through how to set this up through the Groups tool. However, if you have already created Single User, member-specific groups for your course, you can set up a discussion area using these groups using the same steps as you would for any other group-restricted discussion.

  1. Click Communication from the course navigation bar. Select Groups from the dropdown menu. 

  2. Click the blue New Category button.

  3. Give your Category a name. You can also add a description if you wish.

  4. Set the Enrolment Type to Single User, member-specific groups. 

  5. Click the Set up discussions area checkbox if you wish to immediately begin creating your group restricted Discussion Topics. These steps will assume that you wish to begin immediately creating the Discussion Topics. 

  6. Choose the Forum you want your Discussions to appear under or click the New Forum text to create a new Forum.

  7. Choose if you want to create a New Topic or if you want to attach this topic to an existing topic. These steps will assume you are creating a new Topic

  8. Click the blue Save button.

  9. Choose what type of topic you want to create:
    • Create one topic per group: This setting will create separate Discussion Topics for each learner. This setting can be helpful if you wish to give each student a different prompt to answer. 

    • Create one topic with threads separated by group: This setting will create a single Discussion Topic, but the threads each user creates within that Topic will be private. This option may be best for you if you anticipate wanting to post to all groups at once, or if you will have several group discussions and want to minimize clutter on your discussion page. 

  10. Give your Topic a name and enter a description or instructions into the Description field. 

  11. Click the blue Create and Next button to create the Discussion and return to the groups editing screen, or click the grey Add Another button to create another group restricted Discussion Topic.

  12. When you are finished creating Discussions, you will be taken to a confirmation page. Click Done.

  13. Click the blue Save button.

  14. If you would like to apply additional setting to your group restricted Discussions (Add a Start and End Date, attach a Grade Item, attach a Rubric etc.) you will need to edit that Discussion Topic in the Discussions tool. You can do so by clicking Communication and then Discussions from the course navigation bar. Then, click the downward arrow next to the Discussion Topic and click Edit Topic from the dropdown menu.