VIU Campus

Set Up Discussions

Before starting to set up your discussions, it is important to understand the language used in VIULearn to describe the various pieces of this tool.

Forums are categories you use to organize your discussions. You must create at least one forum in order to set up any discussions. 

Topics are "rooms" where students can have discussions. You must create at least one topic in order for students to participate in a discussion. Generally, you will make a new topic for each subject or question you want students to discuss. 

Threads are initial responses to a topic. These can be created by students or by you. Each direct reply to a topic will begin a new thread. 

Replies are the responses within a thread. You and your students can reply to others' posts (threads or replies) within a topic to have a back and forth discussion about the topic. 

Posts is the generic word for any contribution to a discussion. Posts can be either the start of a new thread or any reply to a thread. In many menus, VIULearn will use post instead of thread or reply to refer to a contribution to the discussion. 

Creating Discussion Forums and Topics

In order for students to be able to participate in discussions, you must set up at least one forum and one topic.

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

  2. Click the blue New button and choose New Forum from the dropdown menu. 

  3. Give your forum a title and add a description if you wish. 
    • You can choose to check the box for Create a new topic in this forum with the same title. If you would like the system to automatically create a topic for you.

  4. Set and edit any additional settings.

  5. In the Properties tab you can:
    • Allow students to post anonymously to every discussion topic that has been associated with this forum.
    • Require that a moderator (instructor) approve every post that is posted to the discussion topics that have been assigned to this forum before they are displayed for other students to read.
    • Require that students must start a thread in the discussion topic before they can see, read, and reply to other threads in that discussion topic. If this setting is applied at the forum level, the setting will be automatically applied to each discussion topic that has been assigned to that forum. 

  6. In the Restrictions tab you can:
    • Hide the discussion forum and any discussion topics associated with that forum from students.
    • Attach Release Conditions.
    • Give the discussion forum a Start & End Date and choose whether these dates will display in the course calendar. If you decide to assign a start or end date, please read the Understanding Date Restrictions text below to get an understanding of the different start/end date behaviors.
  7. Once you have finished editing, click the blue Save and Close button.
  1. Click Communication from the course navigation bar. Select Discussions from the dropdown menu. 

  2. Click the blue New button and choose New Topic from the dropdown menu. 

  3. Your topic will automatically be named "Untitled". It's recommended that you give your topic a more specific title. 

  4. A new forum will be automatically created using the same title as your discussion topic. To edit the name of your forum or to associate the Discussion Topic with an existing forum click the Change Forum text. 

  5. If you wish to grade the Discussion Topic, assign a point value in the Grade Out of field.
    • Once you have done so, a grade item will be automatically created in the grades tool for this discussion topic.
    • If you wish to attach this discussion topic to a grade item that you have already created in the grades tool, click the In Grade Book text and select Edit or Link to Existing from the dropdown menu.
    • If you do not wish to create a grade item for this discussion topic, click the In Grade Book text and select Not in Grade Book from the dropdown menu.

  6. Describe in more detail the purpose of the discussion topic by writing in the Description field. You can also add videos, images, and more to the discussion topic by using the HTML editor tools.  

  7. Set and edit any additional settings underneath the Availability Dates & Conditions, Post & Completion, and Evaluation & Feedback tabs.

  8. Underneath the Availability Dates & Conditions tab you can:
    • Assign a Start and End Date.
    • Create and Add Release Conditions.
    • Create and Edit Group and Section Restrictions

  9. Underneath the Post & Completion tab you can:
    • Allow learners to post to the discussion topic anonymously. 
    • Require students to start a thread before they can view or reply to other threads in the discussion topic. 
    • Require that posts be approved by an instructor before other students can view and reply to them. 

  10. Underneath the Evaluation & Feedback tab you can:
    • Create and attach a rubric. 
    • Allow instructors to assign a score to each individual post in the discussion topic. 
    • Allow students to rate other posts in the discussion topic. 

  11. If you wish to manually hide the discussion topic from students, click the Visible toggle button at the bottom of the page. 

  12. Once you are finished, click the blue Save and Close button. 

Availability Dates & Conditions

Assigning a start and/or end date will allow you to change how students will interact with the discussion topic before the start date has passed and after the end date has passed. In a discussion form, navigate to the Restrictions tab to edit the start and end date behavior. In a discussion topic, click the Visible with access restricted text in the Availability Dates & Conditions tab to change the start and end date behavior:

  • The Visible with access restricted setting is the default setting. With this setting, students will be able to see the title and description for the discussion form/topic, but will not be able to navigate into the topic or see any discussion threads and replies. 
  • The Visible with submission restricted setting will allow students to navigate into the discussion topic and read any existing discussion threads & replies. However, they will not be able to post any new discussion threads or replies.
  • The Hidden setting prevents students from seeing the entire discussion form and/or topic including the title, description, and any existing threads or replies. 
  • The Display in calendar/Add availability dates to Calendar option will allow you to make the start and/or end date visible to students in their VIULearn calendars. 

Group & section restrictions allows you to restrict the discussion topic so that only selected groups or sections can access and participate in the discussion topic. Click the Manage Restrictions text in the Availability Dates & Conditions tab to select or edit the group and section restriction behavior: 

  • The Restrict Topic setting allows you to restrict the Discussion Topic so that only the groups or sections selected will be able to see and post in the Discussion Topic. This setting is ideal if you wish to give each group or section a different question or prompt to respond to. 
  • The Restrict topic and separate threads setting will make it so that students will only be able to see and respond to other students who are in the same group or section as they are. This setting is ideal if are giving students all the same prompt but wish to restrict how many threads students can see and reply to but you (as the instructor) still want to be able to view all their responses in one place.
  • Click the checkbox next to each group category, group, and/or section you wish for these restrictions to be applied to.

Students can access discussions in the discussion tool. However, to make it easy for students to find the discussions you want them to participate in, you can also link discussions into your content modules.

  1. Click Content from the course navigation bar. 

  2. Select the module or sub-module that you want the discussion topic to be located in.

  3. Use the grey Existing Activities button and choose Discussions from the dropdown menu.

  4. Select the discussion forum from the list by clicking directly on it, the list of topics will then appear.

  5. Select the discussion topic from the list by clicking directly on it.

  6. The Discussion topic will appear at the bottom of the module or sub-module.