The Discussions tool is a collaboration area to post, read and reply to messages on different topics, share thoughts about course materials, ask questions, share files, or work with your peers on assignments and homework.
Access the Discussions tool
Click Discussions on the navbar.
Finding and reading messages
Once a discussion gets going, new messages can come in very quickly. There are a number of places in Learning Environment that identify new messages to help you keep on top of things:
- The Updates widget on your course homepage lists the total number of unread messages for all discussion topics in your course.
- The number of unread messages appears beneath each topic in the Discussions List. To see only topics with new messages, click Unread in the Filter by tool navigation. All topics that contain unreaded messages appear bolded if you have the Discussions List pane visible when viewing topics.
- Inside a topic, select Unread Only from the View drop-down list.
- You can subscribe to specific discussion forums, threads, or messages to receive an email notification whenever there is a new post.
Reading messages in Discussions
There are two ways to view messages inside a topic. See Discussions settings to learn how to change your view.
In the Grid Style message list, a list of messages appears at the top of the page, showing the subject, author, and date for each message. Click a message’s subject to read the message; the full message appears at the bottom of the screen or in a new window, depending on your personal settings.
In the Reading Style message list, the full text of every message always displays. Click the Mark Read link below a message’s header to tell the system when you’ve read a message.
In either style, use the View drop-down list to switch between Threaded view, where messages are grouped with their replies, and one of the Unthreaded views (All Messages, Unread Only, Flagged Only).
Following a discussion forum, topic, or message thread
You can receive email and SMS notifications to discussion forums, topics, and message threads that you subscribe to. Ensure your Notifications settings are set up properly.
Subscribe to notifications
- Click Subscribe beside the forum or topic to receive notifications of new posts.
- If you do not have an email address set up in your user profile, you will be prompted to enter your System Password and New Email in a pop-up window. Click Save.
- In the Customize Notifications pop-up window, select your Notification Frequency. Click Subscribe.
Note To subscribe to individual messages inside a topic, click the Subscribe icon for the message, then click Subscribe.
Unsubscribe from notifications
- Click Subscribed beside the forum or topic to stop receiving notifications.
- In the confirmation pop-up window, click Yes.
Note To unsubscribe to individual messages inside a topic, click the Unsubscribe icon for the message, then click Yes.
Managing discussion subscriptions and settings
You can make changes to your subscriptions in Notifications and in the Subscriptions area of Discussions.
Change default frequency of notifications and email address
Configure your preferences on the Notifications page.
- Do one of the following:
Manage subscriptions for forums, threads, or messages
- Click Subscriptions from the tool navigation.
- Modify your Notification Frequency settings, or unsubscribe from any forum, topic, or message thread you do not want to follow.
Searching for messages in Discussions
- On the Discussions List page, click on the topic you want to search for messages.
- If the Search For field is not visible at the top of a message list, click Show Search from the More Actions button.
- Enter the terms you want to find in the Search For field and click the Search icon.
- To perform an advanced search:
- Click the Show Search Options.
- Specify additional search criteria from the options that appear.
- Click the Search icon.
To see all messages again, click Clear Search.
Marking a discussion message as read or unread
Messages automatically mark themselves as read when you open them if you use the Grid Style message list (depending on your site’s configuration). However, if you use the Reading Style message list or you print messages to read them, you will need to manually mark messages as read to indicate to the system that the message is no longer new.
In some cases you might also want to manually mark a message as unread—for example, if you open the message from the Grid Style message list but do not finish reading it.
Mark a message read or unread
Do one of the following:
- In the Grid Style message list, select one or more messages from the list and click the Mark Read or Mark Unread icon at the top or bottom of the list.
- In the Reading Style message list, click the Mark Read or Mark Unread link below the message header.
- In either view, click Mark All Read to mark all messages in the topic as read.
Flagging a message in Discussions
If you want to return to a message at a later time, or if you want to monitor replies to a message, you should flag the message.
Click the Not Flagged – Click to Flag or Flagged – Click to Unflag icon next to the message’s subject to flag or unflag a message.
To quickly find your flagged messages, select “Flagged Only” from the View drop-down list and click Apply.
Printing messages in Discussions
You can view messages in a printable format and send the messages to your printer when using the Grid Style message list.
- In the Grid Style message list, select the messages you want to print.
- Click Print.
- In the Printable View pop-up window, click Print.
Access Discussions tool settings
Do the following:
- On the Discussions List page, click Settings.
Personal settings control the way you view messages inside a topic. These settings apply to all course offerings wherever you access discussions, but do not affect other users.
Display Settings The following display settings are available:
- Show the discussion topics list Use this setting to show or hide the list of topics. Hide it to save space or show it to switch between topics quickly.
- Show the search bar Use the search bar to search for messages. You can also show or hide the search bar by clicking Show Search or Hide Search from the More Actions button inside a topic.
- Show the preview pane If you are using the Grid Style message list, you can choose to open messages in a preview pane at the bottom of the screen or in a pop-up window. Select this option to use the preview pane; clear it to use a pop-up window.
Default Message List View The following message list views are available:
- Threaded View Group messages together with their replies.
- Unthreaded View Sort messages by author, date, subject, message ID, or average rating.
Message List Style The following message list styles are available:
- Grid Style The Grid Style message list resembles a traditional email reader where each message’s subject, author, and date appear in a list without the full text of the message. To read a message, click the subject; the full text displays in a separate area.
- Reading Style The Reading Style message list shows the full text of all messages in a single view. You read messages by scrolling through the page without having to select messages and read them one at a time.
Message Fields to Display You can choose to display the following fields:
- Org Defined ID Use this setting to see ID numbers beside author names.
- Message ID Use this setting to see ID numbers when viewing messages.
Character Limits If you are using the Grid Style message list, you can choose to display only the first few characters of each message’s subject to save screen space. Select the check box and enter the maximum Subject Characters to Display.
Reply Settings Use this setting to automatically include the text of any message you reply to when composing a reply.