Student Training

Discussion Boards

Discussion boards give students the chance to participate in peer discussions using the online discussion board feature in Turnitin. The class discussion board allows students to suggest topics for approval by the instructor, reply to topics posted by the instructor, and reply to the posts made by other students in a moderated discussion environment.

Accessing Class Discussion Boards

The class discussion board is available from the class portfolio "discussion" tab. The class instructor or account administrator for the institution may disable this feature or the feature may not be in use. If the discussion tab is not available it has been disabled.

If the discussion board is available, access the class discussion board by clicking on the "discussion" tab.

Posting a Discussion Topic

The instructor may not allow student posting of discussion topics. Discussion topics only become active if the instructor approves these topics. If there is no link to "post a new topic" the instructor has disabled the ability of students to post topics. The discussion topic must be approved by the instructor before it can be viewed by students in the course.

How to post a new discussion topic:

  1. From the discussion board page click on the "post a new topic" link
  2. Enter the topic information:
    • topic title (required)
    • topic description (optional)
  3. Click "submit" to add the new topic to the list of pending topics to the discussion board. The topic must be approved by the instructor before users are able to post replies to the new topic

Discussion Page Overview

The discussion page lists all discussion topics for a class. From this page the user has a quick overview of all the discussions that are ongoing or previously active in the class.

The "status" column displays if a topic is active or inactive. Active discussions still allow student posting. Inactive topics do not allow any posting to be made unless the instructor reactivates the topic.

The "replies" column shows the total number of replies to a topic.

The "new" column shows how many replies, if any, have been posted since the student user last viewed the discussion topic.

If the class instructor has selected a moderator for a topic, the "pending" column shows how many replies need to be moderated. Refer to the Moderation section in this chapter for more information on moderating a discussion topic.

The "last reply" column shows when the last reply was posted in a topic.

The "moderator" column displays the moderator for the topic, if any. If no moderator has been selected, "none" is displayed in this column.

The pull down menu on the discussion page lets the user choose to view "all topics," "active topics," "pending topics," or "inactive topics." By default the view is set to "all topics."

Posting a Reply

To access a discussion and view the responses in the discussion, click the title of the topic listed on the discussion board page. This will bring the user into the detailed view of the topic. The topic is listed at the top of the page, and any responses are listed beneath the topic.

To post a reply to a topic:

  1. From the discussion board page click on the name or title of the topic to reply to
  2. Click on the "reply to topic" button next to the discussion topic
  3. Enter the response in the reply box provided. By default only the latest reply is shown. To display the entire thread, use the pulldown menu at the top of the form and select "entire thread"
  4. Once the reply is entered, click on the "submit reply to topic" button to add the reply to the discussion. If the topic is moderated, the reply will only be posted after moderator approval

Tip: Responses that will take more than a few minutes to type should be written in a word processor software and then copy and pasted into the reply box for the discussion board. This prevents loss of internet connection causing a lost reply to the discussion board, especially in the event of complex replies.

No images or formatting is accepted by the reply box - only text will be entered into a discussion board reply thread.

Responding to Previous Replies

Student users may also respond to the replies left by other classmates. This encourages discussion and can help students to polish opinions and ideas with the assistance of their peers. To respond to a reply rather than to the discussion topic, use the "reply" link to the right of the specific reply instead of the "reply to topic" link.

Deleting or Editing Responses

A response may be edited or deleted by the user who created the response. This is done by clicking on the "edit" or "delete" links to the right of the response. If a reply has been added to a post, it cannot be deleted or edited by the user. Only the moderator or instructor will be able to modify or delete the response.

Discussion Board Views

The discussion boards feature two main viewing styles - a flat view and a threaded view. These views use one basic structure but differ in other ways.

A topic thread might look like this:

 Topic

  1. First response to topic
    • Response to reply 1
  2. Second response to topic
    • First response to 2
    • Second response to 2

Flat View

The default discussion board view is the flat view. This view shows responses flat in thread order, like the example above.

With the flat view, users can view responses with or without threads. By default, the thread is shown.

For example, the following is posted:

I agree with this topic

and the student user replies with:

Why do you agree with this topic?

The posting order will show up as:

I agree with this topic.
Why do you agree with this topic?

The flat view with nested threads is the default viewing method. To view only responses and see no referenced thread, use the "show replies as" pull down menu to select "flat view with no thread" on the discussion page.

Threaded View

The second primary view type is the threaded view. To use the threaded view, use the "show replies as" pull down menu and select "threaded view."

When viewing a discussion using the threaded view, only the top response of each thread is shown. For example, if the discussion has this structure:

 Topic

  1. First response to topic
    • Response to reply 1
  2. Second response to topic
    • First response to 2
    • Second response to 2

the threaded view will appear as:

Topic

  1. First response to topic
  2. Second response to topic

Additional replies will be accessible by clicking on the "replies" link for the selected response. The user can drill further down, opening additional layers of the thread, by following the "reply" links.

To go back up a level, the user can click on the thread title. This will return the view to the level that was clicked.

Viewing Replies by User

Replies can be sorted by user via use of the "show replies from" pull down menu. To view only responses from a specific student user, select the name of the student from the pull down menu. Student users can also view only their own responses by selecting their own name from the menu.

Sorting Replies

Replies on a discussion board can be sorted by status, author, reply number, date posted, and number of replies. This is accomplished by clicking on the column header for the sorting method. A single click of the column header "author" will alphabetize the reply list from A-Z. A second click of the "author" column header will organize the list from Z-A. The default organization is listed in the organizational examples earlier in this chapter.

Moderation

An instructor may select to appoint a moderator for a discussion, or may moderate the discussion themselves. The role of the moderator is to approve any and all replies made on a discussion board. Typically, this approval is used to ensure that only acceptable content is posted, that the discussion stays on topic, and that no inappropriate language is used.

If the instructor sets a student user as the discussion moderator, an e-mail is sent to notify the student of this assignment. As moderator, the student user is responsible for approving pending replies. An indicator of the number of pending replies in each discussion topic that the user is moderating is visible from the discussion board main page. If a discussion topic has pending replies, these can be viewed by clicking the discussion topic title. Pending replies will be listed at the top of the discussion.

How to moderate a discussion topic replies:

  1. To edit a reply before approving it, click the "edit" button below the pending reply. Replies can also be edited after being approved
  2. Edit the reply for content if necessary
  3. To approve a reply, click the "approve" button below the pending reply. The pending reply will be shown
  4. Use the "approve?" pull down menu at the top and select "yes" to approve and post the reply, or select "no to reject the reply. A reply can also be edited at this time before approving.
  5. After selecting from the "approve?" pull down menu "yes" or "no", click on the "submit reply to topic" button to approve the reply or delete it
  6. If the reply was approved it will be posted to the discussion. If the reply was rejected, the moderator is prompted to delete the reply or save it for later
  7. The moderator can also delete a reply or a pending reply by clicking on the delete button below the reply
  8. A prompt will appear. To delete the reply click "Ok"
    Warning: If a reply is deleted that has replies that have been made to it, all replies made to the deleted reply will also be deleted

Once the reply has been approved it will be assigned a number and added into the discussion thread.

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