Creating Discussions

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As an instructor, you can create forums and topics for your courses from within the Discussion Tool. Brightspace Discussions tool can be used to create community in a course, for group assignments such as recorded presentations, and for individual journals, among other uses.

Important Terms

‘Containers’ that house one or more discussion Topics. They normally organize related Topics into categories.  For example, you may have a forum for all discussions that take place during Week One, or for all discussions relating to a theme in your course. Before you can create a discussion Topic, you must create at least one Forum.

Topics (required)

Location where the discussion posts and replies take place, i.e. where users post and read messages. Your course can include as many Topics as you like, as long as each Topic belongs to a Forum.


A group of messages prompted for a response to a Topic. It consists of the initial post and replies. These can be created by the course owner, or by users.


Responses posted to a specific discussion thread.

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Creating Forums

Note: Users cannot post in empty Forums. You must create a Topic inside the Forum before anyone can create threads or posts.

  1. To create a forum, click New > New Forum
  2. Give the forum a title, E.g. Week 1 Discussion or Group Project
    • Optional: check the Create a new topic in this forum with the same title box to automatically create an unrestricted topic where your students can post (users cannot post inside of empty forums)
  3. Write a description for the forum
  4. On the Properties tab, choose your options:
    • Allow anonymous posts – allows users to post anonymously (once users begin posting with this option selected, it cannot be changed)
    • Users must start a thread before they can read and reply to other threads in each topic – requires users to create a new post of their own before they can see or respond to other posts in the topic
    • A moderator must approve individual posts before they display in the forum – requires you or another moderator to approve posts before other users will see them
    • Display forum description in topics – choose whether the description on the topics inside this forum will be visible to users
  5. If you wish to apply restrictions to your forum, click the Restrictions tab
  6. Click Save and Close, Save, or Save and add topic if you wish to create a topic with specific settings, a different title from the forum, or advanced restrictions
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Creating Topics

Note: Topics can only be created inside of Forums. Create a Forum before you attempt to create a Topic.

  1. To create a topic, create New > New Topic, (you can also click the dropdown menu next to the forum where you want the topic created and click Add Topic, which allows you to skip forum selection in the next step)
  2. Enter a topic title, if different from the forum title (E.g., if you have multiple topics on different subjects that you are organizing under one forum)
  3. If this topic is being graded, choose a grade item
    • Under Grade Out Of, click Ungraded
    • Enter the number of points
    • Open the In Grade Book dropdown menu and click Edit or link to existing
      • If you haven’t already set up your full gradebook and don’t have a grade item for this Topic already, select Create and link to a new grade item and give the item a title
      • If you already have a grade item you want to use, select Link to an existing grade item and then choose an available grade item to associate with this topic
  4. Enter a Description for the Topic, if it’s different from the Forum description
  5. Optional: Click and expand Availability Dates & Conditions on the right hand side
  6. Optional: Click and expand Post & Completion on the right hand side if you want to apply specific post & completion settings to this topic
    • Note: Forum settings may override anything selected here
  7. Optional: Click and expand Evaulation & Feedback on the right hand side
    • In this section, you can add a rubric (if assessing the topic for a grade), and control the granularity of grading options when assessing student posts under Evaluate Posts
  8. Click the visibility toggle if you want to manually hide the topic, overriding other visibility restrictions (new Topics are visible to students by default, unless other restrictions have been placed on them; an item that has been manually hidden will need to be manually un-hidden before students can see it)
  9. Click Save and Close or Save

Note: You can link to Discussion topics or forums from within your Content modules by clicking Existing Activities and choosing Discussions. This makes it easier for students to keep up with weekly discussion activities.

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