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6.20. Discussion Topics

Create a Discussion Topic

Discussion topics can be a great way to help build learning communities among students and provide a venue for instructors to interact with students as well. Promoting and facilitating classroom discussions can not only help students learn from one another but also help students understand and retain lecture content better.

Add a Topic

Discussions are nested within discussion forums. From the NavBar, choose Discussions, New and then New Topic. 

Discussions selected from the NavBar and expanded to Create New.

Or, select Add Topic from a specific forum context menu to create a new discussion for that forum.

Forum menu expanded to display Add Topic.

Add Details

Enter the Title and Description of the discussion topic in the corresponding text boxes under the Properties tab. If the forum was not selected, it will be chosen from this window.

Properties tab, Title and Description textboxes are all highlighted

Post Requirements

There are three options for student posts. Users must start a thread before they can read and reply to other threads is typically used, but it may not suit every situation. There are options to allow anonymous posts or require approval before posting. These options are not recommended.

*Please note, if you selected any options at the forum level, those options will automatically apply to all topics within the forum.

A student may also rate discussions by using Five Star, Up/Down Vote, Up Vote Only, or No Rating method.

Discussion topic options displayed below the description textbox. Rating schemes Five Star, Up/Down Vote or Up Vote Only are highlighted.

Availability for Forums and Topics

Availability in Brightspace is synonymous with visibility. Previously, this function in Brightspace used Locking Options. They are now consolidated with the Availability date options. Making availability choices in Forums is discouraged unless all topics will have the same settings. Discussion topic settings cannot be edited once they are set in Forums.

From the Restrictions tab, the Display in Calendar option is now consolidated with the Availability Start Date and End Date options, which adds the start date and end dates to the calendar. The Availability Start Date and End Date options and display as the following new options:

Availability options under the Restrictions tab. Has Start Date and End Date options described in the text.


Select the Restrictions tab at the top of the Edit Topic page.

Restrictions include Release Conditions and Group and Section Restrictions. Release conditions can be set on a variety of tools, including discussion topics. The release conditions allow specific actions a student must take prior to the discussion topic becomes viewable or actionable. When Group and Section Restrictions are enabled, only members of the specified groups or sections will have access to this topic.

Restrictions tab highlighted. Segment topics, Release Conditions and Group and Section Restriction highlighted on the page.

(This video from D2L has one change to update in an upcoming version. Locking Options have been replaced by Availability. Please choose Availability Options where the video refers to Locking.)

Release conditions may be applied toward awards, checklists, classlists, competencies, content, discussions, assignments, grades, quizzes, and surveys. Each has other variables to provide specific circumstances to release portions of the course to students. In the next example, a discussion is restricted until the student scores 100% on a quiz.

Score on a Quiz, Select Quiz Sample Quiz all highlighted. Arrow point toward Create a New Release Condition page expanded. Criteria menu expanded with arrow pointing to show other symbol choices that include: <=, <, >=, >, =, Between, != and Not Between. Grade set to 100. Create button highlighted.


All conditions must be met is the default choice, but if more than one condition has applied, Any condition must be met could be selected if appropriate.

All conditions must be met highlighted in the menu.


Groups and Sections may also be restricted. Check the box and add groups or sections as needed. Choose Save to continue.

On the Group and Section Restriction page, checkbox for Restrict this topic to the following group and section and Add Groups and Section are highlighted. Save button highlighted.



Select the Assessment tab at the top of the Edit Topic page.

If the gradebook has already been set up, select the corresponding grade item from the Grade Item drop-down menu. In Score Out Of, enter the maximum possible points for the discussion topic.

*Please note, if you are using a weighted grade scheme, the possible points will always be 100.

Expanded grade item with arrow pointing toward the menu on the Assessment tab. Score Out Of highlighted.


Choose Add Rubric to open the rubric list or search by name. Create Rubric in New Window can be used here if the rubric was not previously created for the course. Rubric development is covered in another section.

Student discussions can be assessed uniformly as an assignment group or they can be assessed individually. Select the Allow assessment of individual posts checkbox and select the appropriate calculation method from the Calculation drop-down menu.

If unassessed posts should be included in the grade calculation as zero, mark the Include unassessed posts checkbox next to the Calculation drop-down menu. Choose Save when finished.

Add Rubric highlighted. Arrow pointing toward the Posts menu expanded to Select a Calculation Method. Individual post assessment with the include unassessed posts option selected and Select a calculation method highlighted with arrow pointing toward the open window. Save button highlighted.


Edit or Delete a Discussion Topic

Navigate to the discussions list and choose Edit Topic from the menu of the topic to edit.

Discussion topic menu expanded to Edit Topic.


The Edit Topic window will open. Make any needed changes. This process is very similar to creating topics. Choose Save and Close when finished.

Save and Close button highlighted.


Navigate to the discussions list and choose Delete from the menu of the topic to delete.

A window will open confirming you want to delete the topic. Choose Yes to continue. The discussions list page will refresh and the topic will be removed.

Discussion topic menu expanded with the delete option displayed. Arrow pointing toward Confirmation window. Yes button highlighted.


Choose Save and Close when finished.

Save and Close button


Discussions Grades are Synchronized in Gradebook

When an instructor enters a grade for a discussion in the standard or spreadsheet view of Grade Book, the grade also appears with the discussion post in Discussions. Previously, grades entered in the Discussion were passed on to Grade Book; however, grades for discussions entered in Grade Book were not passed to the Discussions tool. This has been updated to ensure data consistency between Discussions and Grade Book. 

(This video does refer to Locking Options. Locking Options have been replaced by Availability Options.)




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