Introduction

The Forums tool allows you to create and manage threaded discussion boards on your worksite. Students, professors, project leaders, and team members can discuss topics at length in an organized environment.

The Forums tool can have multiple Forums, and each Forum can have multiple Topics.

To begin, click on the Forums link in the tools-menu on the left-hand side of the page. By default, there will be a general forum with a topic called General Discussion.

Forums

Creating a Forum

To create a forum, click the New Forum action button below the heading. This will bring you to the Forum Settings page, where you create a new Forum.

Enter the name of the new Forum into the Forum Title field. The Topics within this forum will be displayed below the Forum's name. The Short Description will be displayed on the main Forums page below the title. The Description textbox is for a full description about the Forum. This will only show when a user clicks the View Full Description link on the main forum page.

If you would like to create an attachment to the Forum's information, click on the Add Attachments button under the Attachments section.

Under the Forum Posting section, you can select to Lock forum so that users can see the forum but cannot post within it. You can also select to Moderate topics in forum so that each post must be approved by the moderator before it can be viewed by all users. Another option is to select Require users to post before reading, which prevents users from reading other responses before they post their own.

Under the availability section, select Show immediately so that site members can see the Forum as soon as it is published. Select Specify dates to open (show) and/or close (hide) if you would like to have the Forum only visible during specific dates. Click on the calendar icon to select the dates.

If you do not want a notification that new messages are available in the Forum to be visible, check the box for Automatically mark all messages in a conversation as read.

If you would like the new Forum to be graded, choose which Gradebook item to associate the Forum with from the Select a gradebook item drop-down menu.

The Gradebook item must be created before you can associate the Forum with any Gradebook item. For more details on how Gradebook implementation works with this and other tools, see documentation in Section 3.1 of the Gradebook help document and/or Section 3 of the Gradebook 2 help document.

Changing the Permissions for the roles and groups on the worksite is optional. By default, the Instructor has the Permission Level set to Owner while the Permission Level of Students, Teaching Assistants, and Teaching Assistant (whole course) is set to Contributor. To change this, click on the drop-down menu in the Permission Level column next to the Role you would like to change, or click the Customize button to set custom Permissions for each role.

For more detailes on Forum and Topic Permissions, see Section 7 below.

Once you have entered all the information for your new Forum, click the Save button at the bottom of the page. Click the Save Settings & Add Topic button if you would like to save the Forum and immediately add a new Topic to it. If you are not ready to publish this Forum and would like to return to further edit the information at a later time, click the Save Draft button. Click the Cancel button to cancel creating a new Forum.

Editing a Forum

You can edit a Forum from the main Forums page. Next to the name of the Forum you would like to edit, click the Forum Settings link.

This will take you to the Forum Settings page. On this page you can edit all the same information as when you create a new Forum, such as title, descriptions, options, and permissions.

Once you have finished editing the Forum, click the Save button at the bottom of the page.

Deleting a Forum

To delete a Forum, click on the More link next to the name of the forum on the main Forums page, and then click the Delete Forum link.

You can also delete a Forum by clicking the Forum Settings link next to the name of the Forum you would like to delete, and then clicking the Delete Forum button at the bottom of the page.

Once you have clicked any of buttons to delete the Forum, you will need to confirm that would like to delete the Forum. Click the Delete Forum button to confirm. Click the Cancel button if you do not want to delete the Forum.

Topics

Creating a Topic

To create a new Topic, click the New Topic link next to the name of the Forum.

This link will bring you to the Topic Settings page. You will also reach the Topic Settings page when you click the Save Settings & Add Topic button when creating or editing a Forum.

Enter the name of the new Topic into the Topic Title field. The Short Description will be displayed on the main Forums page below the title of each Topic. The Description textbox is for a full description about the Topic. This will only show when a user clicks the View Full Description link on the main Forum page or within each Forum.

If you would like to create an attachment to the Topic's information, click on the Add Attachments button under the Attachments section.

Under the Topic Posting section, you can select to Lock Topic so that users can see the Topic but cannot post within it. You can also select to Moderate Topic so that each post within the Topic must be approved by the moderator before it can be viewed by all users. Another option is to select Require users to post before reading, which prevents users from reading other responses before they post their own.

Under the availability section, select Show immediately so that site members can see the Topic as soon as it is published. Select Specify dates to open (show) and/or close (hide) if you would like to have the Topic only visible during specific dates. Click on the calendar icon to select the dates.

If you do not want a notification that new messages are available in the Topic to be visible, check the box for Automatically mark all messages in a conversation as read.

If you would like the new Topic to be graded, choose which Gradebook item to associate the Topic with from the Select a gradebook item drop-down menu.

The Gradebook item must be created before you can associate the Topic with any Gradebook item. For more details on how Gradebook implementation works with this and other tools, see documentation in Section 3.1 of the Gradebook help document and/or Section 3 of the Gradebook 2 help document.

When creating a new Topic, under the Automatically Create Topics section, you have the option to either Create one topic or to Automatically create mutliple topics for groups. If you select the second option, the Topic will be created separately for each group that you choose from the list that appears. Check the boxes next to the groups you would like to great this Topic for.

Changing the Permissions for the roles and groups on the worksite is optional. By default, the Instructor has the Permission Level set to Owner while the Permission Level of Students, Teaching Assistants, and Teaching Assistant (whole course) is set to Contributor. To change this, click on the drop-down menu in the Permission Level column next to the Role you would like to change, or click the Customize button to set custom Permissions for each role.

If you have selected the Automatically create multiple topics for groups option, the Permissions for the topics will automatically default to the Permissions set to the Forum. You will not be able to edit the Permissions for the Topics.

For more details on Forum and Topic Permissions, see Section 7 below.

Once you have entered all the information for your new Topic, click the Save button at the bottom of the page. Click the Save Settings & Add Topic button if you would like to save this new Topic and immediately add another new Topic to it. If you are not ready to publish this Topic and would like to return to further edit the information at a later time, click the Save Draft button. Click the Cancel button to cancel creating a new Topic.

Editing Topics

You can edit a Topic from the main Forums page. Next to the name of the Forum you would like to edit, click the Topic Settings link.

Another way to access the Topic Settings page to edit a Topic is to first click on the name of the Topic you wish to edit on the main Forums page. On this Topic's page, click on the Topic Settings action button below the heading.

This will take you to the Topic Settings page. On this page you can edit all the same information as when you create a new topic, such as title, descriptions, options, and permissions.

Once you have finished editing the topic, click the Save button at the bottom of the page.

Deleting Topics

To delete a Topic, click on the More link next to the name of the Topic on the main Forums page, and then click the Delete Topic link.

You can also delete a Topic by clicking the Topic Settings link next to the name of the Topic you would like to delete, and then clicking the Delete Topic button at the bottom of the page.

One more way to delete a Topic is to first click on the name of the Topic you with to delete on the main Forums page. On this Topic's page, click on the Delete Topic action button below the heading.

Once you have clicked any of buttons to delete the Topic, you will need to confirm that would like to delete the Topic. Click the Delete Topic button to confirm. Click the Cancel button if you do not want to delete the Topic.

Conversations

Starting a Conversation

To start a new Conversation in a topic, first decide in which Topic you would like to post and click on the name of the Topic on the main Forums page. Once on the Topic's page, click the Start a New Conversation action button.

This will take you to the Start a Conversation page. Here, you can fill in the thread's Title and the Message of the first post.

If you would like to add a file to your thread, click the Add attachments button.

Click Post Message to finalize your post. If the site owner has set the forum or topic for moderation, your post will not be displayed until a moderator has approved it.

Once you have entered all the information for your new Conversation, click the Post button at the bottom of the page.

Viewing a Conversation

To view and reply to a thread, click on the name of the Topic on the main Forums page. On the Topic's page, you will see a list of all the conversations.

To view all of the posts in the Conversations on the Topic's page, click the Display Message Content action button. Click the Display Subject Only action button to return to viewing only the subject of the Conversations on the Topic's page.

To view a Conversation, click on the name of the Conversation you would like to view and reply to.

On the Conversation page, you will be able to see all of the messages within the Conversation.

As an Instructor, you have the ability to Reply, Email, Grade, Edit, and Delete Message for any post written within the Conversation. In addition, you can change the view of the conversation by clicking the View drop-down menu. You can select to arrange the Conversation by dates or unread messages. Use the Mark All as Read action button to mark all the messages as if they have been read, and click the Printer icon action button to print the Conversation.

As a Student with default Permissions, you will only be able to Mark as Read and Reply to a post in a Conversation. You can change the view of the conversation by clicking the View drop-down menu. You can select to arrange the Conversation by dates or unread messages. Use the Mark All as Read action button to mark all the messages as if they have been read, and click the Printer icon action button to print the Conversation.

Replying to a Conversation

To reply to a post in a Conversation, click the Reply link next to the post you'd like to reply to.

If you would like to specifically reply to the very first message posted in the Conversation, click the Reply to Initial Message action button.

The Reply to Forum Conversation page will show you the message that you're replying to. You can keep the Reply Title at its default or change it. Enter your response into the Message textbox.

If you would like to add the content of the original post into your response, click the Insert original text link above the Message textbox. To add an attachment to your response, click the Add attachments button below the Message textbox.

Once you have composed your reply, click the Post button at the bottom of the page. If the site owner has set the Forum or Topic to be moderated, the post will not be displayed until a moderator has approved it.

The response will be posted directly below the message you are responding to.

Editing A Post

If the Permissions for your role allow you to edit a post, whether your own or another user's, click the Edit link beneath the subject of the message.

When you are done editing your post, click the Post Edited Message at the bottom of the page.

Deleting A Post

If the Permissions for your role allow you to delete a post, whether your own or another user's, click the Delete Message link beneath the subject of the message.

You will be asked to confirm that you would like to delete the selected message. An alert message above the message content will ask you to confirm that you would like to delete the message. If you are sure you would like to delete it, click the Delete button. If you do not want to delete the message, click the Cancel button.

Deleting a post will leave a gap in the thread that says This message has been deleted, even if you have deleted the first post in the thread.

Statistics & Grading

The Statistics & Grading feature allows you to see all the data for every Forum and Topic, as well as enter grades for individual users or Forums and/or Topics as a whole. You can view the statistics for each individual user, such as how many posts they authored and read. You can also view the total amount of posts by Topic.

Click on the Statistics & Grading action button on the main Forums page to view the Statistics and to enter grades.

By User

The default Statistics & Grading page is the Statistics & Grading by User view. On this page is a list of your site members, how many posts they have Authored and Read, how many posts remain Unread by them, and the Percent Read by them.

Statistics

Clicking on a user's name will provide a more detailed account of their activity in the Forums tool. You can view a list of the messages they have Authored and a list of the messages they have read.

To view an individual message the user Authored, click on the link for the message in the Subject column under the Messages Authored section.

The message's page will display all subject, the message, and any attachments. You can click the display in conversation link to view how the message appears in the Conversation. To print the message, click the print icon below the heading.

Once you have finished viewing the message, click the Return to Statistics for X button at the bottom of the page.

You can also view a message in its full conversation by clicking the display in conversation link on the full statistics page for the user.

The post Authored by the user will be displayed how it appears in the Conversation within the Forum. To print the Conversation, click the print icon below the heading.

Once you have finished viewing the message displayed in the Conversation, click the Return to Statistics for X button at the bottom of the page.

To view all the posts Authored by the user on one page, click the Show Full Text for All Authored Messages link above the Messages Authored table.

The next page will show the content of all the messages the user has authored on one page. On this page you can choose to Grade the messages or to display in conversation. To print the messages, click the print icon below the heading.

Once you have finished viewing the messages, click the Return to Statistics for X button at the bottom of the page.

Grading

Entering grades individually for each user can be useful if you are grading on the content of a posts rather than giving a grade for the amount of posts they have created.

When you enter a grade for a Forum or a Topic into the Statistics table, every post within that Forum or Topic will be given the umbrella-grade you have given them for the Forum or Topic. In addition, when you enter an individual grade for a post for a user, that grade will carry over to the other posts within the Forum or Topic.

Once you are on an individual Participant's Statistics page, you can click the Grade link for the Subject you would like to grad them on.

The Grade Forum Message window will pop-up. It will display the post that you are grading, as well as the grading options. If the selected item has not been setup to be graded yet, click the Select a Gradebook item drop-down menu to choose a Gradebook item to associate the Forum or Topic with. Enter the point value into the Grade textbox, and enter any comments you have into the Comments textbox.

Once you have entered a grade, click the Submit Grade button. If you have changed your mind about grading this item, click the Cancel button.

By Topic
Statistics

To view the Statistics for the Forum tool by Topic, click the Statistics & Grading by Topic link in the upper right hand corner of the main Statistics & Grading page.

On the Statistics & Grading by Topic page, you will see a table with all the Topic Titles, the Forum Titles they are associated with, the Date the Topic was created, and the Total Messagesposted within each Topic.

To view the details for each Topic, click on its name in the Topic Title column.

On this page, you will be able to enter grades and view more details for each user. Click on the name of the user you would like to see more details for Authored messages in the chosen Topic.

A window will pop-up with the details of their posts.

Click the print icon at the top of the window to print the details for the user. To close the window, click the Close Window button.

If you would like to view all user activity within the Topic, click on the Details link directly to the right of the user's name. You will see a view similar to the Statistics & Grading by User view with a Messages Authored and a Messages Read section.

To view Statistics about a Forum, click on the name of the Forum under the Forum Title column on the Statistics & Grading by Topic page.

On the Forum's Statistics page, you will see the same table as the Topic's Statistics page.

On this page, you will be able to enter grades and view more details for each user. Click on the name of the user you would like to see more details for Authored messages in the chosen Forum.

A window will pop-up with the details of their posts. Click the print icon at the top of the window to print the details for the user. To close the window, click the Close Window button.

If you would like to view all user activity within the Forum, click on the Details link directly to the right of the user's name. You will see a view similar to the Statistics & Grading by User view with a Messages Authored and a Messages Read section.

Grading

On the Statistics & Grading by Topic page, select the Topic you would like to enter grades for by clicking on its title in the Topic Title column.

If the Topic you have selected is not yet setup to be graded, you can set the Topic to be graded by selecting an item from the Select a gradebook item drop-down menu.

To enter grades, type the point value into the textbox in the column with the Topic's name. If you would like to give users who you have left ungraded all the same score, enter the point value into the textbox above the table and click the Apply Grade to all Ungraded button.

Once you have finished assigning grades, click the Submit Grades button. If you have changed your mind and would not like to save the grades you entered, click the Cancel Changes button.

The same process is used to grade Forums. However, to access the grading page for Forums, on the Statistics & Grading by Topic page, select the Forum you would like to enter grades for by clicking on its title in the Forum Title column.

Other Ways to Access Grading

There are multiple ways to access Grading other than through the Statistics & Grading feature of the Forums tool.

Forums

To grade a Forum, on the main Forums page, click the More link next to the selected Forum's name, and click the Grade link from the menu that appears.

Another way to access Forum grading is to click on the Forum's name on the main Forums page. On the next page, click on the Grade link next to the title of the Forum.

Topics

To grade a Topic, on the main Forums page, click the More link next to the selected Topic's name, and click the Grade link from the menu that appears.

Another way to access Topic grading is to click on the Topic's name on the main Forums page. On the next page with the Topic's details, click on the subject of the Conversation under the Conversation column.

The details of the Conversation are on this next page. Below the subject of each post, click the Grade link to enter a grade for the Topic for each user.

Organizing Forums

If you have added multiple Forums and Topics and would like to change the order in which they appear on the main Forums page, you can use the Organize feature to do so. Click the Organize action button on the main Forums page to get started.

On the Organize Forums and Topics page, your Forums and Topics will be listed in their current order. To change the order of a Forum, click the number from the drop-down menu directly to the left of the Forum's name.

To change the order of a Topic within a Forum, click the number from the drop-down menu directly to the left of the Topic's name.

Once you have organized your Forums and Topics, click the Save button at the bottom of the page.

Watching Forums

Watching forums allows you to be notified by e-mail about new activity within the worksite's Forums. To Watch a site's Forums, click the Watch action button on the main Forums page.

There are three options to choose from: Send me an email whenever a new message is posted, Send me an email when a conversation that I have contributed to receives a new message, and No notification. The first option will send you an e-mail notification whenever a post is made in ANY Forum. The second option will only send you an e-mail when new posts are made in threads you have posted in. The third option will disable the watching of any Forum on this worksite.

Click the Save button to save any changes.

Template Settings

The Template Settings option allows you create default settings and permissions for every Forum or Topic you create.

From the main Forums page, click the Template Settings action button below the heading. This will bring you to the Default Settings Template page, which has the same settings you would see when creating and/or editing a Forum or Topic.

Changing any of the settings and permissions on these page will cause the new settings and permissions to become the default for all Forums and Topics you create in the future.

Click the Save button at the bottom of the page to finalize your changes.

Permissions

In the Forums tool, you can change the Permissions for each role in the Template, individual Forums, and individual Topics. To change the Permissions, click on the appropriate settings button for the item you would like to change Permissions for (e.g. the Forum Settings button for Forum Permissions).

In the Permissions section of each settings page, you can change the Permission Level for each role, as well as Customize each role's Permissions.

To change the Permission Level of a role, click on the drop-down menu next to the role's title.

Select the level of permissions you would like that role to have. You can choose from the following:

If you would like to set custom permissions for a role, you can select the Custom option from the Permission Level drop-down menu, or you can click the Customize button.

In the Customize section that opens up, check the boxes next to the abilities you would like the role to have and uncheck the boxes next to the abilities you would not like the role to have. Select the radio buttons for the Editing and Deleting options you would like the role to have.

Once you are finished editing the Permissions, click the Save button at the bottom of the page.

Ranks

The Ranks option carries out two functions. First, it allows you to identify people based on the number of times they post. This can help you keep track of who has been the most or least active in online discussions. Second, it allows you to denote certain individuals, such as the teaching staff, as a higher rank than other participants.

From the main Forums page, click the Ranks action button below the heading. On the Ranks page, you will be able to view all created ranks and add ranks.

To add ranks, click the Add Rank action button. Type in a rank name in the field provided. Then select the rank type.

Assign special rank to selected members

If you would like to denote a special rank for selected individuals from other participants, you can select the first option: Special rank assigned to selected site member(s). Then select the Add Individuals action button.

To add individuals to the assigned rank, you can either search an individual by name or select a name under the list of Site Members. When a name is selected, it will automatically be moved into the list of Individual(s) to be Assigned Rank. If you would like to remove an individual from the assigned rank list, simply click on the individual’s name. Once you have finished selecting the participant(s), select Update individuals. If you would like to cancel changes made, select Cancel.

Once finished, select Update Individuals to return to the ranks page.

Assign rank based on post count threshold

To assign a rank based on the number of times an individual posts, select the option Rank based on post count threshold. Then click on the Enter threshold number textbox to enter a number.

Once finished select Update to return to the ranks page.

2013 July 25