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How do I create a Forum with discussion Topics?

Instructors can create a Discussion Forum that contains Topics for discussion.

The Forum tool is organized by Forums, Topics, and Conversations.  

  • A Forum is a template that holds a group of Topics.
  • A Topic is the idea, question or concept an instructor would like the students to discuss.
  • A Conversation is a student response to a Topic.    
  • Instructors create Forums and Topics, students (and sometimes, instructors) create Conversations.

Go to Forums

Select the Forums tool from the Tool Menu.

Click New Forum.

 This displays the Forum Settings page.

Title the Forum and add a short and long description if needed.

Forum titles are required.  The short description will appear under the Form title. The long description will apear under a button marked "Long Description".

Click Add Attachments if you want to attach a file to the Forum.

Click the Add attachments button to browse for and select a file. This is sometimes useful if you want to attach a grading rubric.

Select forum posting options.

There are several forum posting options from which to choose.  Remember, any settings selected here will apply to all of the topics within this forum by default.  (However, these may be overridden the settings on an individual topic if desired.)

  • Lock forum:  This option locks the forum so users can no longer post messages.  However, they can continue to read existing messages.  
  • Moderate topics in forum: This option means all messages posted within topics in this forum, must be approved by the instructor before other students can see them.
  • Require users to post before reading:  Selecting this option requires users to  post their own response first, before they can view other messages posted previously.  This is a good option to select if the Instructor wishes students to respond to a discussion prompt before seeing other student responses.

Select availability.

The default option is to Show Immediately, or  choose to Specify dates to open (show) and/or close (hide).

Tip: Setting open and close dates at the forum level can be tricky because individual topics may also have specified dates.  However, the forum must be visible in order for the topics within the forum to be available to students.  Typically, instructors set open/close dates at the topic level only.

Select Read Options

By default, new postings are marked "new" and "unread". Selecting this option will mark all messages within a conversation as read (and remove the "new" notation) after they are viewed by the student.

Leaving this property unchecked, will require the user to manually click on the "read" button for each conversation and reply to mark it as "read" and remove the "new" notation.

Specify Gradebook item.

When grading forum posts, select a specific Gradebook item for the grades to be included in the Gradebook calculations.

Tip: Similar to open/close dates, associating with the Gradebook at the forum level is not always ideal because individual topics may also be graded. Faculty may prefer to grade discussions at the topic level.


In most cases, the default forum permissions are appropriate.  By default, instructors are forum Owners, and all other site participants are Contributors.  The forum owner may add and delete topics, modify permissions, edit the forum and topic descriptions, etc.  Contributors may only read, post and reply to messages.

To modify the default permissions, click Customize to expand the permission settings.

Modifying Permissions

Forum permissions may be customized for different user roles, or for groups within the class. Select the drop-down menu next to each role/group to choose one of the pre-configured options (i.e. Author, Contributor, None, Non-editing Author, Owner, Reviewer),  

Click the  Customize button to the right to further expand the options and for more granular custom permissions.

Note: Forum permissions automatically flow down to any Topic created in the Forum. Once you set the permissions at the Forum level, all of the permissions will be set accordingly for subsequent Topics added to the Forum.

Click Save.

This returns the display to the Forums page with the new Forum listed.

Example of the new forum:

Click New Topic.

This displays the Topics settings page.

Title the Topic and add a short and long description if needed.

Topic settings are identical to forum settings except these settings apply to a single topic, not all of the topics in the forum. Topics must be created within  Forums in order for site participants to be able to post, read, and reply to messages.  

Tip:  To keep all of the same settings that selected on the forum level, just specify a title and (optionally) a description for the new topic.

Click Save.

If this completes the topic/s to be added to this forum, click on the Save button at the bottom of the screen to save your topic settings.  

To add additional topics to this forum, click on the Save Settings & Add Topic button to add another topic.

Example of Forum with one Topic:

Example of Forum with multiple Topics: