The Discussions Tool
As its name implies, the Discussions tool is used to facilitate class discussions. Your instructor will typically post a discussion topic related to the course material and you and your classmates respond by posting messages. The Discussions tool is much like a message board in an online community, as communication does not take place in real time and messages are typically organized into threads.
The Discussions tool has the following features:
- You may be allowed to rate messages using a five-star rating system.
- You may be required to post to a discussion topic before you are able to read other students' posts.
- You can attach files to messages. For example, you might want to attach a document to allow your peers to review it and provide comments.
- You may be allowed to edit your messages after you have posted them.
- Your instructor may create a topic that is assigned specifically to a group of which you are a member.
- Your instructor may lock a topic, so that the messages are read-only and you cannot post any new messages.
- Discussion topics may be gradable, meaning that your participation in the discussion will be counted towards your final grade for the course.
The Discussions tool is located in the Communication dropdown menu on the course navigational bar. If you select the Discussions link, you are taken to the main screen for the Discussions tool. Alternatively, your instructor may add a link to a discussion topic within a learning module. If you select the discussion topic link in a module, you are taken to a screen that contains that specific discussion topic.
Once a discussion gets going, new messages can come in very quickly. To help you keep on top of things, new messages are identified in a number of places.
On your course homepage, the Updates widget lists the total number of unread messages for all discussion topics in your course.
On the main discussions page, the number of unread messages appears within each topic. To see only topics with new messages, select Unread next to Filter by at the top of the page. If you have the Discussions List pane visible you can see topics with unread messages in bold.
You may be allowed to rate messages using one of three schemes: Five-Star, Up Vote/Down Vote, or Up Vote Only.
Pima Community College vigorously promotes the use of online discussions as a critical medium for developing a cohesive online learning community.
Let's look at discussion topics and threads next.