Setting up Discussions

Discussions let you conduct online conversations with your students on course-related subjects.

  • The basic elements are the title, topic, comments, and replies.
  • Graded discussions let you assign a grade based on each student's participation in the discussion.
  • Discussions can be attached to the course or to an individual lesson.

Who can start a discussion?

Different kinds of users can create discussions:

  • Course faculty and teaching assistants: Faculty and TA's listed for the course have full access to all discussions, settings, permissions, and grading requirements (for graded discussions).
  • Academic Admins and Registrars: Likewise, so do Academic Admin and Registrar users.
  • Students and auditors: Enrolled and auditing can start discussions; their options are limited to setting the discussion title and topic. You can change any settings on any discussion, including changing it to a graded discussion.


The Discussions view collects all of the course's discussions, including:

  • Available, future, closed, and deleted discussions
  • Graded and non-graded discussions
  • Draft and published discussions
  • Discussions attached to lessons

In the image above:

  • You can filter the Discussions view to Show all discussions, course discussions, or discussions attached to individual lessons.
  • Click the link at the bottom to show deleted discussions (if you've deleted any).
  • Drafting, Editing, and Revising (Week Twelve) is currently open. It has a total of 39 comments and/or replies. The discussion symbol is blue, which indicates that it has comments you've not read yet. It is a graded discussion due on April 23. One comment has been reported.
  • Creative Non-Fiction and New Journalism is in draft mode. If published, it will be available on April 25. It is attached to the Creative Non-Fiction lesson. It is a graded discussion.
  • Welcome to the Creative Writing Workshop has been closed for comments. At the time it closed, there were 102 comments. One comment has been reported.

Creating new discussions

There are three ways to create new discussions in your course

  • Clicking Add a course discussion in the Discussions view (see below)
  • Adding a discussion-type assignment
  • Adding a new discussion in a course lesson


This lets you create a non-graded discussion that is attached to the course. If need be, you can later connect it to an assignment or a lesson.

  1. Click Add a Course Discussion.
  2. Enter the discussion title. The title should be a brief description of what you want the discussion to focus on.
  3. Enter the discussion topic. The topic can be as detailed and lengthy as you wish. You can use text formatting in the topic.
  4. Attach an optional file.
  5. Check whether this discussion is published or not. Students cannot participate in a discussion until it is published.
  6. Enter a date for when this discussion will first be available.
  7. Choose how to close the discussion to comment:
    • Yes means this discussion is now closed to new comments/replies.
    • No means this discussion is now open to new comments/replies.
    • Date lets you set the end date/time, at which time the discussion will automatically be closed to new comments/replies.
  8. Check whether to allow Peer Rating.
  9. Check whether to require a student to submit a post before being able to see other students' comments.
  10. Enter the maximum number of comments and/or replies that an individual student can make in a discussion.
  11. When you're done, click Save.

Now that you've created this discussion, it will show up either under current or future discussions. It is not graded, but you can link it to a discussion-type assignment later on.


This lets you create a graded discussion that is attached to the course. If need be, you can later connect it to a lesson.

  1. Go to the course Assignments view.
  2. Click Add an assignment.
  3. Enter the assignment details.
  4. When you get to the Type field, choose Discussion.
  5. A new drop-down will appear, letting you choose either to create a New discussion or to select from any existing (non-graded) discussions.
    • If you create a new discussion, the discussion will have the same name as you give the assignment.
    • If you choose an existing discussion, the assignment name will change to the discussion name.
  6. When you're done, click Save.

Graded assignments give you lots of options for grading requirements and other details. To set those up, go to the discussion assignment's page.


This lets you create a new, non-graded discussion that is attached to the lesson. You can also add a graded discussion to the lesson.

Start by going to the Lessons view and clicking a lesson title.

To add a new discussion:

  1. Click add a discussion.
  2. Adding a new discussion here works exactly like adding a new discussion in the Discussions view. See above for details.
  3. You can add multiple discussions to a lesson.
  4. You can later link a lesson discussion to an assignment and so turn it into a graded discussion.

To add a graded discussion:

  1. Click add an assignment.
  2. Select one of your discussion-type assignments from the drop-down and Save.
  3. When you do this, the assignment will show in the Assignments panel, and the associated discussion will show in the Discussions panel.

The discussion page

After creating your discussion, click its name to go to its page. There you can update the discussion's settings, edit the topic (before any comments are posted), and, of course, submit and manage comments and replies.

Settings and actions

  • Published: If set to No, the discussion is still a draft and students can neither view it nor comment on it. If set to Yes, then students can make comments and view it (students can view published discussions even after comments are closed).
  • Click Actions and select Delete Discussion. This lets you delete the discussion and all its comments and data. Graded discussions can only be deleted by deleting the associated assignment.
  • You can edit the discussion topic (and title) right up until someone (including you) posts a comment.
  • You can change any of the discussion's settings by clicking the setting name, making your changes, and saving.
  • Peer rating: If set to Yes, then students can rate other students' comments/replies with one to five stars. Each comment will then display the average peer rating. You can use peer rating as a grading requirement in graded discussions.
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  • 0
    Dr. Beemer

    Brendan, you don't address the "post first" option.  Is this the option that requires the student to post his/her response before being able to see anyone else's post?  (If so, Hallelujah!)

  • 0
    Isaac Grauke

    Hi Matthew, you got it! Its number 8 under Discussions above.

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