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Creating a Discussion

While many use the iCollege Discussion Tool as a collaboration area that allows for asynchronous discussions of topics and sharing of information between students and groups of students, it can also be considered an assessment tool.

The Discussion Tool allows students to submit (attach and upload) files and embed video and audio files into a discussion posting much like the Assignment Tool.  The Discussion Tool has the advantage of allowing to discuss and comment upon each other’s submissions.  Like the Assignment Tool, it can include rubrics.

Before using the tool, it is important to know the difference between Forums, Topics, and Threads/Replies.

  • Forum is a container for Topics.
  • Topic contains the discussion itself.
  • Thread/Reply contains an individual student’s post to the Topic, along with others’ replies to that post.


Watch the following tutorial to learn about forums.

To create a Forum:

  1. From the course navigation bar, click Assessments.
  2. Select Discussions.
  3. Click the New drop-down menu and select New Forum.
  4. Enter the Title.
  5. Enter the Description.
  6. Select the Options you want for the Forum.


Watch the following tutorial to learn about Topics.

To create a Topic:
    1. From the course navigation bar, click Assessments.
    2. Click Discussions.
    3. Click the New drop-down menu and select New Topic.
    4. Choose an existing Discussion Forum from the Forum drop-down menu or click New Forum if you have not already created a forum.
    5. Enter the Title for the Discussion Topic.
    6. Enter the Description.
    7. Select the Options you want for the Forum.
    8. Click Save.

Grading a Discussion Topic

Watch the following tutorial to learn how you can grade a discussion topic from the grade book.

Grading Options for a Topic:
  1. When you create or edit a discussion topic, there are four tabs displayed on the screen. Click the Assessments tab.
  2. Select the Grade Item from the drop-down menu.  The Grade Item is the column in the grade book where the grades for this discussion will be entered. If no Grade Item exist, click New Grade Item to create a new one.
    Discussion assessment tab
  3. In the Score Out of field, enter the maximum points/score for this discussion.
  4. If you created a rubric in iCollege for grading the discussion, click the Add Rubric button to select the grading rubric.
  5. For a discussion, you may require students to make at least 2 – 3 posts to a discussion topic: an initial response and replies to classmates.  Most faculty members will issue one grade for all posts.  However, if you want to assign a separate grade for each post, click the checkbox to Allow assessment of individual posts and select a Calculation method from the drop-down menu.
  6. Click Save and Close.

Creating Group Discussions

There are 2 ways to create group discussions — From the Discussions tool or in the Group tool.

The Group tool:

    1. Click on the down arrow to the right of the category title and select Edit Category.
      Edit group category
    2. Click the box to the left of Set up discussion areas.
    3. Choose an existing Forum or create a New Forum.
    4. Create a new topic or select an existing topic that has no posts or restrictions.
    5. Click Save.

Set up group discussions in the group category area

    1. If you selected the Create new topic option above, the Create Restricted Topics screen will appear. On this screen, you select the number of discussion topics to be created.  There are two (2) options:
      • Create one topic per group: Creates a separate discussion topic for each group.
      • Create one topic with threads separated by group: Creates a single discussion topic that houses all the groups (students will only see posts from their specific group members).

Choosing one discussion board per group or a shared discussion board where group members can see only their own groups posts

  1. Create a Title for the discussion topic.
  2. If you want to create another group discu
  3. Click Create and Next at the bottom of the page.

The Discussions Tool

  1. From the Assessments menu, select Discussions.
  2. Create a New Topic.
  3. Select Group or section topic as the Topic Type.
  4. Click the Group or Section Category drop-down arrow to select the desired group category.
    choosing groups from the discussion tool
  5. Enter a Title for the discussion topic.
  6. Complete setting up the discussion.


The layout for creating a new discussion will be changing soon.  View the following video to become familiar with the new creation experience.

Best Practices

  • Set the rules and expectations for online communication and interaction.
  • Create a course discussion for general questions so that all students can benefit from the answers provided.