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Discussions are a convenient means for you and your students to interact with each other and share thoughts about course concepts. You can create topics so users can ask questions, discuss course content and assignments, and work together in assigned groups and sections.

Desire2Learn discussions are asynchronous (i.e., not real time). A discussion contains forums, topics, and messages.

The Grid View is the default view of D2L Discussions for all users at UWEC. All instructors and students have the option of selecting the Reading View if preferred.

Users will also have access to the Print View. These views are described in detail below and are also explained in this  YouTube video.

This page contains information on the following topics:

For more information about Discussions, watch the tutorial on Using the Discussion Board.
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Create Discussions

Create Discussion Forums and Topics

In D2L Discussions, forums are the parent level which organize discussions. A forum can be simply a title representing the broad subject matter to be discussed in the topics within the forum. Topics are the child level, the area where specific questions, scenarios, and case studies are created and where student discussions occur. As students post messages in Discussion topics, their posts are organized in threads or conversations containing an original post and the related replies. All students in the class will be able to view Discussion forums and topics that are not group restricted.

From the Navigation bar within your course, click Discussions:

  1. Click the New dropdown arrow New Discussion and select New Forum.

    Note: You must first create a forum and then create at least one topic in that forum before students can access the discussion.

  2. In the Title field, type the name for your new forum.

  3. Optional: In the Description text box, type a short description of the forum.

    Note: This optional description will be displayed under the forum title in the Discussions List pane.

  4. For a discussion to be visible to students, you must add at least one topic to a forum. To add the topic immediately, click Save & Add Topic at the bottom of your screen. The New Topic pane appears.

  5. In the New Topic Details section, type the title for your new topic in the Title field.

  6. In the Description text box, type the question or topic for discussion and any instructions for students. Students will see these questions and information as they compose their messages.

  7. Optional: To add additional topics for the same Forum, click Save and New at the bottom of your screen and repeat steps 6-7.

  8. Press Save to retain the newly-created topic and remain on the New Topic page, allowing additional edits to be made on the New Topic page. Or, press Save and Close to save the topic and close the New Topic window.


    The forum and topic(s) are added.

Create Group-Restricted Discussions

You may require students to collaborate with other students in pairs or small groups in your course. The Groups tool in D2L will allow you to create small groups, assign students to those groups, and create group-restricted discussion space for each small group. Group members will only be able to see and participate in their own group-restricted topic(s).

To create group-restricted discussion topics, begin by accessing the Groups tool. You will first create the small groups in your course. You will then be able to create group-restricted discussion topics and group-restricted dropboxes as part of the small group setup. For more information, please review the Creating Groups and Group Workspace help documentation.

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Rating Scheme Options

Choose a scheme (optional)

Instructors may enable an optional Rating Scheme so students can rate classmates' messages. Rating Schemes may be selected on a per topic basis. Only instructors and academic assistants in the course can see the ratings results.

  1. Optional: Select a Rate Posts option.
  2. The default scheme is No Ratings:
  • No Ratings (default) - ratings feature is disabled.
  • Five-Star Rating Scheme - rate classmates' posts on a 5-star scale.
  • Up Vote/Down Vote Rating Scheme - allows voting up and voting down of posts.
  • Up Vote Only Rating Scheme - allows the voting up of posts.
  1. Press Save. Results are visible to instructors in the Topic View and in the Thread View.

    rating scheme opt
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Hide, Restrict, and Lock Discussions


By default, students can view and post in a forum or topic at any time. If you want to hide (from student view), restrict, or lock a discussion after you've created the forum or topic, click Discussions, select the dropdown arrow next to the forum or topic you want to change, and select Edit Topic.

Edit Discussion

Scroll down the Properties tab to the lower half of the page to the Availability and Locking sections.

Note: Any restrictions you apply to a forum also apply to its topics. If you have more than one topic in a forum, and want them to be available at different times, apply restrictions to the topics separately. Otherwise apply restrictions to the forum.


If a discussion topic has not been hidden or date restricted, students can see it. When you edit a forum or topic, the Availability options appears on the Properties tab, below the Description.

If you do not see these options in new forums or topics, click Show forum visibility options:


The image below shows the Availability section with the default option selected, Forum is always visible. The next option below allows the instructor to hide the forum, in which case the instructor would have to manually unhide it in order for students to view it. The last option sets the forum to be visible for a specific date range so it automatically becomes available to students on a certain day and unavailable on a certain day (if chosen).


Locking Options

A locked forum or topic remains visible to students, but students cannot post or reply in that discussion. This is useful if you want students to be able to refer to a specific forum or topic in the discussion board, but do not want any more posts in that forum or topic. When you are editing a forum or topic, Locking Options appears on the Properties tab, below Availability.

If you do not see these options as you create or edit forums or topics, click on Show locking options.


The image below shows the Locking Options section with the default Unlock forum selected. These options are similar to those for Availability.


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Manage Forums and Topics

Edit Forums and Topics

Once you create Discussion forums and topics, you may occasionally need to make changes to your settings or to your text.

To edit an existing forum or topic, access the Discussions tool in your D2L course:

  1. Click on the arrow to the right of the desired forum or topic name and choose Edit Forum (or Edit Topic, as appropriate) from the dropdown menu.

    edit discussion
  1. You can now access the Properties, Restrictions, and Assessments tabs in that forum or topic.
  1. Make your changes; be sure to save.

Reorder Forums and Topics

Forums and topics can be rearranged to display in any order you would like.

  1. From the Navigation bar within your course, click Discussions.

  2. Click the dropdown arrow to the right of the More Actions button. Choose Reorder.

    Discussions Reorder button

  3. To reorder forums or topics within a forum, use the dropdown menus to the right of each forum and topic (forum titles are displayed with a gray background in the reorder pane).

    Reorder Dropdown


Delete and Restore Forums and Topics

  1. In the Discussions tool, click on the arrow to the right of the title of the forum or topic you wish to delete.

    delete discussion

  2. Press Delete at the bottom of the list.

  3. Confirm with Yes.

  4. Your forum or topic is deleted.
Note: Deleting a forum deletes all topics and messages within that forum.
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Participate in Discussions

Personal Display Settings

Settings allow users to display discussion posts in the format they prefer. Instructors and students may choose the Reading View in Settings, may turn off the Preview pane, and set other options for viewing discussion posts.

  1. From the Navigation bar within your course, choose Discussions.

  2. Click the Settings icon on the right side of your screen: Settings
    You will see the discussion options displayed.

    Note: Instructor settings options differ from the options students see when clicking on Settings in Discussions.

    Discussions Settings

  3. A recommended change for Grid View users is to UNcheck the checkbox in front of "Show the preview pane."


    This option is less confusing to new users in particular. Turning off the preview pane means clicking on a post in the grid view will open the message in a new window rather than in the preview pane in the lower half of the screen.

  4. Choose the desired options and press Save to continue.

View and Navigate

There are several viewing and navigation options in the D2L Discussions tool.

Forums are collapsible, meaning you can hide or display the topics within them.

  • Click Hide Topics to collapse the forum and hide the topics within it from view.
    Hide Topics

  • Once a forum is collapsed, text will display below the forum title indicating the number of unread discussion messages and the number of topics within that forum. Click this text to expand the forum and view the topics.
    View Topics

  • Despite the ability to collapse and expand forums, it may still be a lot of information to take in. Use the filtering tools at the top of the list of discussion posts to view only unread items or only unapproved items.

  • Every user will be able to see certain statistics for every discussion topic.

Read Posts with the Grid View

As of January 2015, the Grid View is the default view of Discussions in D2L for all users. Watch this 4-minute YouTube video about the grid view.

  1. Access Discussions on the navigation bar

  2. Click on the blue topic title, e.g., Discussion Topic Title, to be viewed.

  3. The list of posts appears in order by date, most recent on top, in the upper half of the screen (you may have to scroll to see the list of posts).

    Disc Grid View - posts display in list

  4. Click on the subject link for each post to view the message contents: Discussion - click on subject link to read post

  5. The default Preview Pane view appears in the bottom half of the screen.

    1. Click on Settings in the upper right to turn the Preview Pane off, if preferred; the list of posts will then fill the screen.

    2. When you click Create a New Thread to create a new post or press Reply to respond to an existing post, new windows will appear allowing you to post or reply.

  6. Click on each unread (bolded) post to view the message.

  7. Clicking on a post in the list will display the contents of the message in the lower half of the screen.

  8. Click on the next unread message to view its details.

Post Messages and Reply to Messages in the Grid View

Click on a Topic title to see a list of conversations/threads within that topic. 

  1. Click on Start a New Thread button to create a new conversation or thread in the topic.

  2. A new window appears allowing you to create a new post.

    1. Type your subject text in the Subject field and type your message text in the Post block; press Save to post your message.

      Discussion New Post Details

  3. To view posted messages, click on the title of any post to read the contents of the post.

  4. In the grid view, the default view is the threaded view in which the original post is located above the replies; all replies to that post are indented below the original message.

  5. To reply to a classmate's post, click on Reply to Thread.
    1. Or, you may instead respond to a reply to an original post by clicking on the title of one of the indented responses below the original post.

    2. The message window appears.

    3. You must enter a title for your original messages.

    4. Then type the body of your message.

    5. Press Post to add your message to the conversation.

Read Posts with the Print View

Whether you want to print the posts in a discussion topic or not, an efficient, less "clicky" means to read messages in D2L Discussions is the Print View:

  1. With the Grid View chosen as your current view, you may access the Print View of Discussion posts.

  2. Click on the Select all rows checkbox above the list of posts.

  3. Then click on the Print icon to the right of the Select all rows checkbox; the checkboxes in front of all messages will then be checked:

    Discussions: Accessing the Print View
  4. A new window appears showing you the message details in the chosen topic in order by date, depending on the order chosen in the grid view:

    Printable View of a Discussion topic
  5. Expand the window and read the messages; this view allows easy reading of the posts without opening and closing each message.

  6. When you close the Print View and see the Grid View list of messages, the messages in that topic will display as unread.

  7. To change the status of each message to Read after using the Print View, leave the Select All Rows checkbox above the list of messages checked; then click on the Mark Read link to the right of the Select all rows checkbox to change the status of each post in that topic to Read.

    Discussions: Mark Read
  8. Watch this 4 minute YouTube video to see the details.

Read Posts with the Reading View

If you prefer the Reading View, you may change to that view in Settings in the Discussions tool.

  • In Discussions, click on Settings in the upper right.
  • In the Personal Settings section, click on the radio button in front of Reading View.
  • Make any other settings changes you prefer.
  • Press Save to retain your change(s).

When you return to the Discussions list, click on a topic title to view the posts within that topic. The Reading View of Discussions will now appear, showing you the threads or conversations within the topic.

Navigate the Reading View

Messages in topics are organized in threads or conversations in which an original post is grouped with the related replies.

  • Clicking on the Discussions tool on the navigation bar displays the forums in bolded black typeface with the topics in bolded blue typeface and in borders below each forum:

    Discussions 10.3 forum and topics

  • When viewing the list of topics, statistics display to the right of each topic title. The statistics below, 52 and 74 (5), mean there are 74 messages (original and replies) in 52 threads in the topic. Of those 74 posts, 5 messages have not yet been read by you.

    Access unread posts by clicking on the number in parentheses.

     Discussion Threads and Posts

    D2L Discussion Unread Posts link


  • Clicking on a topic title displays the Topic View; this view lists the original posts made in the topic and also displays tallies of unread posts (those not yet read by you), replies to each thread, and the total views of each thread.

  • The bread crumb links at the top of the page in Topic View: topic view,breadcrumb link
  • Clicking on the original post in a topic displays the conversation or Thread View. This view includes the original post or thread at the top of the page; related replies are displayed in table format below the original thread.

    • The bread crumb links at the top of the page in Thread View: discussion list

    • Threads containing unread posts are emphasized with a bolded vertical bar to the left of the thread:


  • Filter and Sort options appear above the threads in the Topic View; similar filters appear in the Thread View:

    Discussions 10.3 filter and sort

  • Select Unread to filter by unread messages; results will display both unread original posts and unread replies to original posts

  • Use the Search field in both the topic view and the thread view to search for specific persons' messages or to search by text you choose:

    Discussions search field

  • Watch! This YouTube video on grading D2L Discussions shows you how to use the Assess Topic feature to read discussion posts and also to grade discussion posts.

Post Messages in the Reading View

  1. Click on a Topic title to see a list of conversations/threads within that topic. 

  2. Click on Start a New Thread (formerly Compose) to create a new conversation or thread in the topic.

  3. To view a specific conversation, click on a Thread title (original post from the instructor or classmate) to read the post and the related replies. In this view, the original post is located at the top of the page and all replies to that post are listed in table format below the original message.

  4. To reply to a classmate's original post/thread, click on Reply to Thread.

    Or, you may respond to a specific reply in the thread by clicking on Discussions 10.3 reply link below the response to the original post.

  5. The message window appears. You must enter a title for your original messages.
  6. Then type the body of your message.

  7. Press Post to add your message to the conversation.

Saving and Finding Draft Messages

When creating original posts, you may save your original messages as a draft and return later to complete and post, if desired. How you find that draft varies differs in the Grid View and in the Reading View.

In the Grid View:

  • Press Save as Draft at the bottom of your original/new message to save the text but not post the message for others to view.

  • Make a note of the topic in which you created your draft message. No visual cues will display in the list of topics to remind you where your draft exists.

  • When you open the topic in which your drafted message is saved, you will see a reminder of your saved message below the Start a New Message button:

    Saved Draft Message in the Grid View
  • Click on the reminder link; the link to your drafted message appears.

  • Click on the link for the draft message to continue creating or editing your message, then post your message to the discussion topic.

In the Reading View:

  • Press Save as Draft at the bottom of your original/new message to save the text but not post the message for others to view.

  • To find your saved message, click on Draft in the filters in the Topic View:


  • Your draft message will display; you may click on the message and continue composing text and/or edit existing text, then post your message.
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Search and Sort Posts


  1. You can search within a topic for a particular post or author. Click More Actions dropdown menu, and select Show Search:


  1. The search box will then be displayed directly above the list of posts.

Search Box

  1. Type your text in the search field, then click on the magnifier icon to the right of the search field to execute the search.

  2. The search results will display.

Sorting Posts in the Grid View

  1. Click Discussions.

  2. Click the desired topic.

  3. From the View pull-down menu, select All Messages » press Apply.
    Note: This step lets you sort posts, instead of seeing them threaded (where original posts are grouped with the related replies).

    view discussion


  • Click Authored By to sort posts by author.

  • Click Subject to sort posts by title.

  • Click Date to sort posts by date posted.

Viewing Discussion Statistics by People

  1. Select Discussions on the navigation bar.

  2. Choose the Statistics tab.

  3. With the Users tab selected, click the View By pull-down menu, select User for users, or Groups and Group number for groups.

  4. Click Apply.

  5. For more detailed statistics for a user, click the desired user's name.

Viewing Discussion Statistics by Forums and Topics

  1. Select Discussions on the navigation bar.

  2. Select the Statistics tab.

  3. Select the Forums and Topics tab.

  4. To view more detailed statistics for each topic, click the desired topic.
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Edit and Delete Posts

Edit a Post

Instructors can edit their own posted messages in the Discussions tool in their courses.

  1. Open the message you wish to edit.

  2. Press Edit Post at the top of the message screen.

  3. The HTML editor will open; make the desired changes and click Save.

Students cannot edit their discussion messages once they are posted to a discussion.

Delete Threads or Posts

Instructors can delete D2L discussion posts, both their own and those posted by others. How posts are deleted depends on the viewing style in use:

  1. If you are viewing messages in the Grid Style, check the checkbox to the left of the post, and press Delete.

    Delete discussion post in grid style

    Or, if you are viewing messages in the Reading Style, click the arrow to the right of the post to access the delete option in the Context menu: either Delete Thread or Delete Post depending on whether you are deleting the first post in the thread or a reply to the thread post.

    Discussions Delete Thread

    Delete Thread removes the original post and related replies from the discussion; Delete Post removes just the individual post from the discussion topic. In either view,  you cannot remove the original post that began the thread without deleting the related replies to that post.

  2. You may choose whether or not you wish to have deleted messages displayed to you by clicking Settings near the upper right-hand corner of the Discussion area and selecting the desired options.

    Setting Display deleted posts

    Note: Any deleted messages will appear grayed out and with a strikethrough.

    Deleted posts displayed

  3. Once deleted, instructors are able to recover the messages.
    1. Open the deleted message.
    2. Click More Actions inside this message, and choose Undelete from the dropdown menu.

      Discussions More Actions button

      Note: Students can not delete any discussion posts.
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Subscribe to Discussions

Subscribe options

You can set up Notifications in D2L which will allow you to subscribe to discussions in specific courses. You may subscribe to entire forums or specific topics and specific threads and receive notifications when new messages are posted in those forums or topics or threads. 

Access the D2L course for which you would like to subscribe to discussions.

  1. From the Navigation bar within this course, select Discussions.

  2. To subscribe to a forum or topic, click on the arrow to the right of the forum or topic name; choose Subscribe from the dropdown menu.

Forum:  subscribeforum

Topic:  subscribetopic

To subscribe to a thread, click on Subscribe link to the right of the posted date/time:


  1. A dialogue box will appear on your screen. In this box you are able to choose whether you would like to be notified via email instantly of changes to this forum or topic, or if you would simply like it included in your summary of activity.

    Note: From this screen you can also set up or change your notification settings by clicking Add an email address in a new window.

    customize notifgications
  1. Click Subscribe to continue. The color of the star in the dropdown menu has changed to show you that you have subscribed to this topic.

    Note: If you subscribed to an entire forum, notice that the stars for each topic within that forum have turned blue as well. This indicates that you have subscribed to every topic in that forum.

  2. To unsubscribe from a forum or topic at any time, access the menu to the right of the forum or topic or thread and choose Unsubscribe.
  • A dialogue box will appear to confirm that you wish to unsubscribe.

  • Click Yes to continue. Notice that the star in the dropdown menu you have unsubscribed from has returned to its original gray color.
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Link to Grades and Assess Discussion Posts

Link Discussion Topics to Grades

To link a discussion topic to your course gradebook:

  1. Access the Assessment tab for the topic.

    Discussions Assessment tab

  2. Choose an existing grade item from the Grade Item dropdown menu
    Or, create a new grade item using the [New Grade Item] link to the right of the Grade Item dropdown menu.

    Discussions - choose a grade item

  3. Enter the point value assigned to the topic in the Score Out Of field. The point value entered here must equal the point value entered for the associated grade item.

    Score Out Of field

  4. Optional: You may link a rubric to the discussion topic. For more information about rubrics, please refer to the Rubrics help documentation.

  5. Optional: If multiple posts are required from each student in the discussion topic and you grade each post separately, you may choose to have D2L calculate an overall score based on the calculation option selected in the Calculation dropdown menu.

    Check the Allow assessment of individual posts checkbox, then choose the calculation method in the dropdown menu below the checkbox:

    Discussions Calculation Method

    • Average Post Score: averages scores assigned to all posts made by a student.
    • Maximum Post Score: assigns a grade based on the highest score earned for all posts made by a student.
    • Minimum Post Score: assigns a grade based on the lowest score earned for all posts made by a student.
    • Mode Post Score - Highest on Multiple: looks at the highest frequency of scores on posts, then selects the highest occurrence of a score per student.
    • Mode Post Score - Lowest on Multiple: looks at the highest frequency of scores on posts, then selects the lowest occurrence of a score per student

  6. Press SAVE to retain these changes; press SAVE and CLOSE to save and return to the Discussions list. Press SAVE and NEW to retain these changes and create a new topic.

Grade Student Posts

If your discussion topic is linked to a grade item in your D2L course, you may grade messages in the Discussion tool using the Assess Topic feature. Grades are then pushed to the course gradebook. This YouTube video shows you how!

  1. Access Discussions in your D2L course.

  2. Click on the arrow to the right of the title of the topic (not forum) you intend to grade; choose Assess Topic.

    Discussions 10.3 Assess Topic

  3. The Assess Topic screen appears, displaying the names of the students in your course along with a Topic Score link for each student.

    Discussions 10.3 Topic Score link

  4. Click on Topic Score for the first student; a Topic Score Details dialog box appears.

  5. Scroll down the page below the feedback section to read the student's message(s) in the topic.

    Discussion 10.3 Assess Topic Post

  6. Scroll back up to enter a score in the Topic Score field.

    You may also:
  • Check the Published checkbox to make the score visible to students (or you may instead wait until your score all students in this topic to publish scores to all students at once).
  • Type a private message to the student in the Feedback block.

    Discussions 10.3 Assess Topic

  1. Press Save and Close.

  2. You are returned to the Assess Topic page. Click on the Topic Score link for the next student and repeat steps 5-7.

Help Desk

For more information or to request a service, contact the LTS Help Desk:
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