Teaching Commons > Teaching Guides > Technology > Desire2Learn > D2L Essentials > Discussions


​Creating Discussions

If you're teaching an online or hybrid course, you'll likely want to use the Discussion tool to facilitate students' conversations around course content. You can also use the Discussion tool to facilitate content sharing; for example, if students are all producing an assignment that their peers may find useful as a resource, you can ask them to share their work in a Discussion.

In addition to a weekly discussion, many courses contain a Q&A forum, in which students can ask general questions about the course. Many courses also contain small group discussion forums, which students can use to work together on projects, debate topics, or discuss other topics.

Best Practices

  1. Use consistent organization.
  2. When using Discussions, you will first need to create Forums, which serve as organizers. For example, if you are creating a course with small-group discussions each week, you would first create a Forum for each week (Week 1 Discussion, Week 2 Discussion, etc.). Then, the spaces where the discussion actually happens are Topics. In this example, the Week 1 Discussion Forum would have a Topic for each group: Group 1 Topic, Group 2 Topic, etc.

    Before you start building your discussions, decide how you want students to participate (as a whole class or in small groups) and then organize the discussions accordingly.

  3. Subscribe to important discussions.
  4. You can subscribe to either Forums or Topics. When you subscribe, you can choose to receive notifications when new posts are made in D2L, via instant email, or in an end-of-day summary email. If you have a Q&A Discussion area, it's a good idea to subscribe for instant notifications so that you can respond quickly if a student has a question. For other discussions, you may want to opt for a summary of activity so that you aren't getting emails each time students post to a weekly discussion.

  5. Use the groups tool to create group discussions
  6. The Groups tool makes it easy to put students into small groups and then automatically create small-group discussion threads or topics that are restricted to each group. This way, a student in Group 1 won't accidentally post to Group 3.

Guides and Tutorials

Participating in Discussions

If you're teaching an online or hybrid course, you'll want to consider what role you'll play on the discussion boards. Some faculty prefer to leave that as a place for students; they'll read the discussions and send a summarizing email at the end of the week. Some faculty prefer to be in the mix, and may jump into discussions to build on or redirect the conversation.

Best Practices

  1. Reply to a specific post.
  2. When you're replying to discussion posts, be mindful of which Reply you click. Click Reply underneath the post to which you want to reply. If you want to give a summarizing comment to the entire post, click the Reply to Thread button at the top of the thread.

  3. Don't include the original post in your reply.
  4. Under your Account Settings, you'll find a Discussions tab that allows you to set your discussion preferences across all of your D2L courses. Generally, people prefer not to select the Include Original Post in Reply setting, which lengthens posts and can make the discussion board feel more like an email chain.

  5. Add a profile photo.
  6. In your Profile, you can upload a photo that will appear next to all your Discussion posts. Some faculty also require students to add a Profile photo if they're going to use the Discussions tool.

Guides and Tutorials

Hands-on Practice: Discussions (Optional)

After reading through the topics in this module, it's your turn to practice in your course. Keep in mind that no one will be evaluating the content of what you create in your course, and you can always revise these items later. The goal of the assignments in this course is only to ensure you’re comfortable using each tool.

To satisfy the requirements of this unit, complete the following tasks in your course:

  • Go to the discussions area and create a new discussion forum.
  • Go into the forum you just created and create a new discussion topic within that forum.

*Remember: Discussion forums are simply containers in D2L that can be used to organize discussion topics. You must create at least one forum before you can create a topic.