Discussion Forums

Creating a Discussion Forum in a Content Area:

To create a Discussion Forum from scratch within a Content Area follow these directions.


  1. Navigate to whatever content area you want a forum located in.
  2. Click the “Tools” menu button and choose “Discussion Board”.
  3. Click the “Create Forum” button.
  4. Enter a name for your discussion.
  5. Enter directions in the larger box below. (Copy and paste these directions into a word document to save time in a later step).
  6. Adjust any date availability and grading options in the lower half of the page.
  7. Press Submit.
  8. Press the “Next” button.
  9. Paste or re-enter your directions from step 5 into the larger box beneath the title. This step is important to make discussion directions appear beneath the icon in your content area.
  10. Press “Submit”. To finish.

linking2.pngLink to an Existing Discussion Forum within a Content Area:

If you already have a discussion forum created in your discussion board that you would like to link to in a Content Area follow these directions.

  1. Navigate to whatever content area you want a forum located in.
  2. Click the “Tools” menu button and choose “Discussion Board”.
  3. Select radio button "Select a Discussion Board Forum".
  4. Left-click on the forum you would like to link to from the "Select a Discussion Forum" box.
  5. Click "Next".
  6. Enter the directions for this discussion assignment in the "Text" text box beneath the "Link Name" box.
  7. Enter any date availability settings in the lower half of the page.
  8. Press "Submit" to finish creating your link.

Video: How to Create a Discussion Forum

Video: How to Grade a Discussion Forum

Printable: How to Create Discussion Forums

Discussion Board Grading & Guidelines:

The purpose of online discussion forums is to encourage reflection and sharing of each student’s knowledge and experiences and to serve as an online version of “class participation”.
Contributions to a discussion forum will be evaluated by assessing the quality of participant contributions, degree of insight, contribution to knowledge, and by inspecting the frequency of each participant’s postings and reading of the discussion (2-3 times per week is adequate).

The following rubric will be used to evaluate discussion board grading:

rubric discussions.png

Guidelines for Discussion Postings:

Because the discussion occurs online as opposed to in class, there are several points to keep in mind.

1. Respond in a timely manner. (For example):
  • Discussion Board postings for each topic will always be scheduled so that you must make your initial contribution by Wednesday (11:59 pm EST) and minimum of 2 follow-up postings (or responses to classmates) by Sunday (11:59 pm EST).

2. Substantive participation should:
  • Add value to the discussion and avoid simply repeating, agreeing with, or answering yes or no to peer’s comments
  • Challenge comments in class, including those of the facilitator
  • Ask insightful questions
  • Answer other people’s questions
  • Exemplify the point with real-life events, when possible
  • Make comments that are relevant to the course content and objectives

3. Ideas for substantive participation include:
  • Share an experience that is related to the discussion. Comment on other participants’ experiences that are related to the course.
  • Ask others questions about their ideas and experiences that are related to the course.
  • Challenge a point that another participant made in a respectful manner.
  • Be respectful of others' ideas. Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group.
  • Be positive, constructive and creative in making comments about another’s posting. Try using phrases like:

“What would happen if you tried….”
“Could this be ethical in all situations, such as….”
“How would this rationale work when….”
“That is a unique way of looking at this because….”
“This made me wonder if the recent news reports on….”
“This reminds me of an article I saw on cnn.com about….”
“I saw a recent example of what you just described where…”

  • Be thorough when you post your initial discussion posting and be sure to answer all parts of the discussion question(s).
  • Offer a different perspective on an idea that is being discussed
  • Give insights gained from readings that were assigned for the week. If you need more information, ask the participants a question about the week's reading
  • Discuss a work issue that is related to the course or discussion and ask for feedback
  • Relate how you have applied what you have read, learned or discussed regarding the course to your personal and professional life
  • Share another resource such as Web links, books, etc. that you have used to answer other participants’ questions or as you explore the topics of the course (as it is a violation of copyright law to copy the actual page)

Helpful Hints:
Typing substantive (long) postings out in MSWord before formally posting to the discussion area can be helpful in the event that you are “kicked out” of the course by a loss of internet connection or other technical difficulties – that way you don’t lose your work! Simply cut/paste your text from Word into the discussion posting space.