Discussion Tool

The LEARN Discussion tool is an excellent feature for sharing information, brainstorming, and exchanging ideas for your students and you.

When to use the Discussion Tool

Discussion forums allows students to participate at a time that works for them. Flexibility in timing also means that instructors can use online discussions to facilitate the exchange of ideas among students across sections of a course. Asynchronous discussions also give students time to consider their thoughts before expressing them to others, which is of particular benefit to students who may need time to understand or reflect before responding to a question.

Example activities:

  • Student and instructor introductions
  • Open-ended questions related to instructional content 
  • Exploring connections between prior knowledge and new knowledge 
  • To summarize other posts, pose questions, and/or cite sources of supporting or opposing ideas/models/theories
  • To facilitate peer reviews and group discussions on instructional content or assignments

Resource: Facilitating Online Discussions (University of Waterloo)


Forum: Sometimes and entire discussion board is called a forum.  In the case of the LEARN discussion tool the Forum is the top level ‘generic’ topic.  For example, you may have forums with titles such as:  “Module Discussions”, “Watercooler/Off Topic”, or “Related World Events”

Topic: Under a forum will generally be a series of topics.  These topics will be more specific than the forum itself.  For example:  “Module 1 discussions”, “Economic Impact”.

Thread: The thread is the actual conversation within a topic.  There can be many initial posts under a topic, these initial posts and any subsequent replies will become individual threads under that topic.  The thread can be sorted by a variety of variable, but by default will display in the order they are posted.

Building Discussions in LEARN

Setting Up a Discussion Forum

Creating a Discussion Topic

Discussions Restrictions, Assessment, and Objectives

Navigating Discussions (Video)