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Discussions

The Discussions tool, if used by the instructor, is a collaboration area where you can 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.

Discussion Table of Contents:

 

Accessing Discussions

link to discussionsClick the Discussions link on your course navigation bar.

student view discussions list

 

The Forums & Topics List page displays the forums and topics created and made visible by the instructor. To display all forums and topics make sure "All Forums and Topics" is selected from the Display drop-down menu at the top of the page.

Topics are where the actual discussions take place; topics are organized into Forums and are displayed indented under their parent Forum. Under each topic the number of total posted messages and messages unread are displayed. Start and end dates for the forum/topic, if set up by the instructor, will also be listed under the title of the forum/topic.

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Posting and replying to messages

Posting a message

  1. From the Forums & Topics List page, click on the Topic where you want to post a message.
  2. Click Compose at the top of the message list on the far left. This will open a pop-up window where you will compose your post.
  3. Type a Subject (optional).
  4. Type your Message. Use the Basic and Advanced editing tabs to format your message and add a picture, link, or embed a video. See our Help Page on embedding a video.
  5. If you have subscribed to this topic or forum, check the box next to "Follow updates to this message" to receive notifications about any replies posted to this message. See Subscribing to forums and topics for instructions on how to set up subscriptions.
  6. To attach a file, click Add a File and locate the file you want to attach. You can attach as many files as you want.
  7. To record up to a minute of audio, click Record Audio. This will open a pop-up window where you will record your audio. Click Allow in the Adobe Flash Player Settings to allow BeachBoard to use your microphone (whether external or internal) to record sound. When ready, click the Record button and record your audio clip. Press the same button (now Pause) to pause/stop recording. Press the Play button to listen to your audio clip. You can clear your previous recording by clicking Clear. When finished, click Add in the lower right corner to attach your audio clip to your post. recording audio popup window
  8. Click Post.

If the topic is moderated, your message will not appear until it is approved. Moderated topics are indicated by the Messages Require Approval icon beside the topic name at the top of the message list.

Replying to a message

  1. From the Forums & Topics List page, click on the Topic where you want to reply to a message.
  2. Locate the message you want to reply to and, depending on your Discussions settings, do one of the following:
    • for Grid Style message list - click the subject of the message you want to reply to in the top pane, and then click Reply at the top of the message displayed in the bottom pane.
    • for Reading Style message list - click the Reply link below the header of the message you want to reply to.
    See Reading messages for information on the Grid and Reading styles.
  3. Type your reply in the Message field, using the Basic and Advanced editing tabs to format your message and add a picture, link, or embed a video.
  4. To include the original message’s text in your reply, click the Add Original Message Text link under the text box.
  5. If you have subscribed to this topic or forum, check the box next to "Follow updates to this message" to receive notifications about any replies posted to this message. See Subscribing to forums and topics for instructions on how to set up subscriptions.
  6. To attach a file, click Add a File and locate the file you want to attach. You can attach as many files as you want.
  7. Click Post.

Reading messages

There are two ways of viewing the messages inside a topic: the Grid Style message list or the Reading Style message list. See Changing your discussion settings to learn how to change your view.

Grid Style: the traditional threaded view. Only discussion posts' subjects are listed, followed by replies and replies to replies, indented to the right. You must open the message to read it and messages are automatically marked as read when you open them.

student discussions grid style

Reading Style: shows all the posts from all displayed threads. Replies within a thread are indented to the right for each level of reply.  The full text of every message is always displayed on one page.

student reading tyle discussions view

Marking a discussion message as read or unread

If you are using the Grid Style message list, messages are automatically marked as read when you open them, but if you are using the Reading Style message list, you will need to manually mark messages as read to indicate 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.

To mark a message as 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 of the message list.
  • In the Reading Style message list, click the Mark Read or Mark Unread link below the message header.
  • In either view, to mark all messages in the topic as read click Mark All Read on the action bar at the top of the page.

Back to Discussion Table of Contents

 

Flagging a message

Flagging messages is a good way to mark a message if you want to read it again later.

To flag or unflag a message, click the Not Flagged - Click to Flag this item or Flagged - Click to Unflag this item icon next to the message’s subject.

You can quickly find your flagged messages by selecting “Flagged Only” from the View drop-down menu at the top right of the message list.


Rating messages 

If the instructor has enabled the setting, you can rate each message posted to a topic. These ratings are averaged among all raters and the Average Rating is displayed next to each message.

To rate a message in the Grid Style message list, open the message you wish to rate, while in the Reading Style message list simply find the desired message in the message list. Next, click on the gold-outlined stars to the far right of the message, with solid gold stars indicating the rating you have selected. Clicking on the first gold-outlined star from the left will give the message a rating of 1 star, clicking on the second gold-outlined star from the left will give the message a rating of 2 stars, and so on. To clear your rating, click on th e clear rating iconClear this rating icon to the left of the gold stars. The Average Rating is shown using blue stars with the number of ratings displayed below.

  message rating in grid style

If the instructor has not enabled the setting, you will not see either the blue or gold stars.

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Printing messages

You can only print from the Grid Style message list. To change your view to the Grid Style, see the section on Changing your discussion settings.

To print messages:

  1. In the Grid Style message list, select the messages you want to print by checking the boxes to the far left of the message's subject.
  2. Click the View Selected Messages as Printable icon at the top or bottom of the list. This will open a pop-up window with all of the messages you selected.
  3. Click the Print button in the lower right corner.

Searching for messages

  1. Enter the topic you want to search within.
  2. If the Search For field is not visible at the top of the message list, click Show Search at the top of the page.
  3. Enter the terms you want to find in the Search For field and click Search.
  4. To perform an advanced search:
    1. Click the Show Search Options link to the right of the Search button.
    2. Specify additional search criteria from the options displayed beneath the Search For field.
    3. Click the Search button.

To see all messages again, click Clear Search link at the top or bottom of the message list.

Back to Discussion Table of Contents

 

Subscribing to forums and topics

Once a discussion gets going, new messages can come in very quickly. To help you keep on top of them, new message alerts are displayed in several areas:

  • On your Course Home page, the Updates widget lists the total number of unread messages for all discussion topics in that course.
  • On the Forums & Topics List page, the number of unread messages appears beneath each topic title. To see only topics with unread messages, select Topics with Unread from the Display drop-down menu at the top of the forums/topics list. Then click Apply.
  • Within a topic, to see only unread messages, select Unread Only from the View drop-down menu at the top right of the message list. Then click Apply.
  • Also within a topic, if you have the Discussions List pane visible on the left-hand side, topics with unread messages are in bold.

You can also receive email alerts about new discussion messages. To subscribe to email alerts for a forum/topic:

  1. From the Forums & Topics List page, click on the Subscribe to updates subscribe to updates iconicon located to the left of a forum's/topic's title.
  2. A pop-up window will open verifying that you wish to subscribe to email updates for that forum/topic. In the center of the window, select if you wish to receive notifications of new messages "At most, once per day" or "Immediately." 
  3. Click Yes to subscribe or No to cancel.
  4. The star next to that forum/topic will then be gold, indicating you have subscribed to that forum/topic.

To unsubscribe to email alerts for a forum/topic:

  1. From the Forums & Topics List page click, click on the Unsubscribe to updates subscribed to updatesicon located to the left of a forum's/topic's title.  
  2. A pop-up window will open verifying that you wish to unsubscribe to email updates for that forum/topic.
  3. Click Yes to unsubscribe or No to remain subscribed.
  4. The star next to that forum/topic will then turn gray, indicating that you are not subscribed to that forum/topic.

Back to Discussion Table of Contents

 

 Changing your discussion settings

To change your settings in Discussions click on Settings under Discussion Areas on the left hand side of the Forums & Topics List page. Or, from within a topic, click on Settings at the very top of the message list. This will open a pop-up window with the various settings within Discussions.

discussion settings 

 Display Settings:

  • Show the discussions topics list: if this is checked, there will be a pane on the the left hand side of the message list displaying all forums and topics in the course. Click on a forum or topic to navigate to that forum/topic.
  • Show the search bar: if this is checked, the search bar will be seen by default at the top of every message list.
  • Show the preview pane: if this is checked, the Grid Style message page will have two panes: a top pane that is the message list and a bottom pane that displays/previews whichever message has been selected.

Default Message List View: Threaded View means replies to a post will be listed as indented under the parent post. Unthreaded View means messages will be listed by date and messages that are replies will not be listed under the parent post.

Message List Style: See Reading messages for information on the Grid and Reading styles.

Message Fields to Display: Each message is assigned an ID number. If you wish to see these numbers above the header of posts, check the box next to Message ID.

Character Limits: Checking this box will limit the number of characters shown in each message's subject.

Reply Settings: Checking this box means that by default, the text of the original message is including when drafting a reply.

Note: If you want more information on a setting, click the get help on iconGet help on icon next to the setting.

Whenever you change your discussion settings, be sure to click Save on the bottom right corner of the settings window to apply the changes

Back to Discussion Table of Contents.



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