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Navigating Discussions

When you access the Discussions tool from the course navigational bar, you are taken to the main screen for the Discussions tool. The Discussions screen lists all of the topics that are available to you. For each topic, the Discussions screen lists the total number of messages posted and the number of unread messages.

Reading Messages in Discussions

Example of a Threaded discussion view in the Reading style and highlights how you can edit the view in settings

There are two ways of viewing the messages inside a topic — using the Grid Style message list or the Reading Style message list. See Discussion Settings to learn how to change your view.

In the Grid Style message list (the view shown on the previous page), a list of messages appears at the top of the page, showing the subject, author, and date for each message. Click a message's subject to read the message; the full message appears either at the bottom of the screen or in a new window, depending on your personal settings.

In the Reading Style message list (as shown above), the full text of every message is always displayed. Click the Mark Read link below a message's header to tell the system when you have read a message.

In either style, use the View drop-down list at the top right of the page to switch between Threaded view, where messages are grouped with their replies, and one of the Unthreaded views (All Messages, Unread Only, Flagged Only) where you can sort messages any way you like.

Closeup of Personal Settings Tool

You can reply to any of the listed messages. Your reply will be added to the thread of that message.

Posting a Message in Discussions

To post a new discussion, click Compose at the top of the message list. The Compose screen appears, where you can enter the discussion text and click Post to post the discussion. When the discussion is posted, it will start a new thread.

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 (depending on your site's configuration), but if you are using the Reading Style message list or you print messages to read them you will need to manually mark messages as read to indicate to the system 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.

Mark a message 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 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 read click Mark All Read on the action bar.

Rating a Message

To increase engagement in the Discussion forum, your instructor may allow you to rate messages using a five-star system. This rating system does not have any automatic grading functions and is not related to the Grades tool.

Flagging a Message in Discussions

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

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 list at the top right of the message list.

Printing Messages in Discussions

If you are using the Grid Style message list, you can view messages in a printable format and send the messages to your printer.

  1. In the Grid Style message list, select the messages you want to print.

  2. Click the View Selected Messages as Printable icon at the top or bottom of the list.

  3. Click the Print button.

You can save your message as a Draft instead of posting it right away. Saving a draft lets you return to the message later to edit it before posting it to the topic.