Restricting Access to Discussion Forums and Topics

For some types of discussions, you will want everyone in your course to have access for the entire semester. For other discussions, you might want to restrict access to a shorter time period or to a specific group of users. You can restrict access to forums and topics in four ways:

  • Hide the forum or topic for all users
  • Lock the forum or topic for all users
  • Use release conditions to display a forum or topic based on other activities within the course (for example, reading a content topic, completing a quiz)
  • Restrict access to members of specific groups or sections

Note:  Any restrictions placed on a forum also apply to all topics within the forum.

Table of contents

Hiding a Discussion Forum or Topic

Hidden topics are not displayed on the main discussions page (except for users with permission to see hidden forums and topics or to manage discussions). By hiding topics, you can control which topics users can access at different times throughout the course. For example, you could create weekly discussion topics for users to reflect on the material covered in each week of the course and make each topic available for one week only.

You can specify start and end dates for when a forum or topic is visible so you can set up visibility ahead of time to match your course’s schedule.

Tip:  Instead of scheduling a topic to disappear as soon as you want the discussion to end, consider locking the topic at that point and keeping it visible for another few days. This allows users to review the discussion after it has closed so that they don’t miss the last messages added.

Hide a Forum or Topic

  1. On the main Discussions page, click the Edit icon Edit icon for the Forum or Topic you want to hide.
    Edit Topic or Forum screenshot
  2. You can also set visibility options when creating a new forum or topic.
  3. If the options in the Availability section are not visible, click Show forum visibility options or Show topic visibility options.
  4. Select the options you want:
    • To hide the forum or topic immediately, select Hide this forum or Hide this topic. The forum or topic will remain hidden until you select Forum is always visible or Topic is always visible again.
    • To hide the forum or topic until a certain date or after a certain date, select Forum is visible for a specific date range or Topic is visible for a specific date range, then select Has Start Date or Has End Date and specify the dates.
  5. Click Save.
    Hide a forum or topic screenshot

Locking a Discussion Forum or Topic

Locking a topic prevents users from posting new messages or modifying existing messages, essentially making the conversation “read only.” Locking a topic can be an effective way of closing a conversation while allowing users to refer back to messages.

You can specify start and end dates for when a forum or topic is unlocked so you can set things up ahead of time to match your course’s schedule.

Tip:  Consider locking a topic to end a conversation, then using a pinned message to post a summary inside topic. This way when users access the topic your summary appears at the top.

Lock a Forum or Topic

  1. On the main Discussions page, click the Edit icon Edit icon for the forum or topic you want to lock.Edit Topic or Forum screenshot
  2. You can also set locking options when creating a new forum or topic.
  3. If the options in the Locking options section are not visible, click Show locking options.
  4. Select the options you want:
    • To lock the forum or topic immediately, select Lock forum or Lock topic. The forum or topic will remain locked until you select Unlock forum or Unlock topic again.
    • To open the forum or topic within a date range, select Unlock forum for a specific date range or Unlock topic for a specific date range, then select Has Start Date or Has End Date and specify the dates.
  5. Click Save.
    Locking Options screenshot

Setting Release Conditions for a Discussion Forum or Topic

Release conditions enable you to specify requirements that users must satisfy before they can access a discussion forum or topic.  For example, you might require that users view a content topic or submit an assignment to a dropbox folder before accessing a discussion topic. Or you might create an extra-help discussion topic for users who fail a particular quiz.

Add Release Conditions to a Forum or Topic

  1. On the main Discussions page, click the Edit icon Edit icon for the Forum or Topic.Edit Topic or Forum screenshot
  2. Click the Restrictions tab.
  3. If the controls in the Release Conditions section are not visible, click Show Forum Release Conditions or Show Topic Release Conditions.
  4. Do one of the following:
    • If you have already created a release condition elsewhere and want to attach it to this forum or topic, click Attach Existing. Select the conditions you want to add, then click Attach.
    • If you want to add a new release condition that does not already exist, click Create and Attach. Enter the details for the new release condition, then click Create.Release Conditions screenshot
  5. Choose whether access to the forum or topic is dependent on meeting all or any of your conditions.
  6. Click Save.
    Save Release Conditions screenshot

Remove Release Conditions from a Forum or Topic

  1. On the main Discussions page, click the Edit icon Edit icon for the Forum or Topic.Edit Topic or Forum screenshot
  2. Click the Restrictions tab.
  3. If the controls in the Release Conditions section are not visible, click Show Forum Release Conditions or Show Topic Release Conditions.
  4. Do one of the following:
    • Click the Delete Remove Condition icon next to each condition you want to remove.
    • To remove all conditions, click the Delete Remove All Conditions icon at the top of the list of conditions.
  5. Click Save.
    Release Conditions Delete screenshot

Setting Group Restrictions for a Discussion Forum or Topic

You can restrict a forum or topic so that it is only accessible to members of a specific group. This enables you to:

  • Create group discussion areas where members of a group can collaborate on assignments or discuss course material in small teams.

Note:  You must create groups before you can set group restrictions.

Restrict a Single Forum or Topic

  1. Do one of the following:
    • On the main Discussions page, click the Edit icon Edit icon for the forum or topic.Edit Topic or Forum screenshot
    • If you are creating a new forum or topic, you can create group restrictions after clicking Save.
  2. Click the Restrictions tab.
  3. If the options in the Group Restrictions area are not visible, click Show Forum Group Restrictions or Show Topic Group Restrictions.
  4. Select Restrict this forum to the following groups or Restrict this topic to the following groups and click Add Groups.
    Group Restrictions screenshot
  5. Select a Group Category. Select “Sections” to restrict access to sections.
  6. Select the groups.
  7. Click Add.
    Group Restrictions Add Group screenshot
  8. Click Save.
    Group Restrictions Save screenshot
To remove a group’s access, click the Delete Delete this item icon next to the group and then click Save.

To open the forum or topic to everyone again, clear the Restrict this forum to the following groups check box or Restrict this topic to the following groups check box and click Save.

Restrict Multiple Forums or Topics Simultaneously

  1. On the main Discussions page, click Group Restrictions Group Restrictions on the left tool menu.
    Group Restrictions link screenshot
  2. Select a Group Category.
  3. Select the Forum containing the topics you want to restrict, or select “All Forums.”
    Restrict Multiple screenshot
  4. To restrict a forum or topic to specific groups, select the check box in the Restricted column, then select the groups you want to be able to access the forum or topic.
  5. Click Save.
    Select Groups and Save screenshot

To open a forum or topic to everyone, clear the check box in the Restricted column and click Save.

Automatically Create Restricted Discussion Topics for all Groups in a Category

You can automatically create a discussion topic for each group in a selected category. Topics are named after the group categories and groups they are associated with.

  1. On the main Discussions page, click Group Restrictions Group Restrictions on the left tool menu.
    Group Restrictions link screenshot
  2. Select a Group Category.
  3. Select the Forum in which to create the topics. If you want to create a new forum for the restricted topics, click New Forum.
  4. Click the Automatically create restricted topics link.
    Automatically create restricted topics screenshot
  5. Click Create.
    Create Automatic Topics screenshot
  Last Updated 7/5/12