Forums in CourseSpaces

Forum activities in CourseSpaces are used for class or group online discussions and for sharing files with other members of your class. In many ways, a forum resembles an e-mail conversation between members of a group, but with all the messages sorted and displayed in one place. You can post messages and reply to messages posted by other members of your class, but you do not need to be online at the same time as the other members of your class to do so.

Most courses will provide a direct link to each Forum activity within their unit or module groupings on the homepage. Some will also have links in the Course Menu block of your course.

So you can always identify them, wherever they are and no matter what they’re called, Forums use a distinctive icon. They are indicated within a unit or module like this:

CourseSpaces Forum icon

How To Use the Forum Tool

 

Forum Tool Layout

To enter a specific Forum activity, select that Forum’s link within the appropriate unit or module.  The image below shows what a Forum activity page looks like. From here you can add a new discussion topic or select an existing post to read. Always read the instructions for the activity posted by your instructor (these instructions appear at the top of the Forum page)!

CourseSpaces Forum Instructions

 
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Reading Forum messages

Each forum/discussion topic is listed under the Discussion heading along with the corresponding author (the person the topic was Started by), number of Replies that have been made to that topic so far, and date of the Last post made in that topic.

  1. View a post by selecting its title link under the Discussion heading.
  2. By default, the post along with indented replies is displayed in what is called a nested layout. From a drop-down box just above the top post, you can select from four layout options to display the posts.
    • Display replies flat, with oldest first
      All posts for the specific topic are displayed in full without indentation. The posts are ordered from oldest at the top to newest at the bottom.

      CourseSpaces Forum Flat format
    • Display replies flat, with newest first
      All posts for the specific topic are displayed in full without indentation. The posts are ordered from newest at the top to oldest at the bottom.

    • Display replies in threaded form
      The post currently being viewed in a specific topic is displayed in full and links to any replies are displayed, indented by the degree to which they are removed from the currently viewed post. Multiple reply posts at the same level are displayed with the newest at the top.


      CourseSpaces Forum Threaded view


    • Display replies in nested form
      All posts for the specific topic are displayed in full, with each reply indented beneath the post to which it is a reply. Multiple reply posts at the same level are displayed with the newest at the top.

      CourseSpaces Forum Nested view

  3. Return to the Forum activity page by selecting the Forum activity’s title in the breadcrumb navigation at the top of the page, or by using your browser’s back button.
 
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Posting New Messages

To add a new discussion topic in a CourseSpaces forum:

    1. On the main Forum page, click the Add a new discussion topic button.
      NOTE: you can only start a new topic on this initial forum page. If you are viewing an existing post, your only option is to reply to that post (see below for information on replying to posts).


      CourseSpaces Forum Add Topic

    2. On the page that opens, enter a Subject and Message for your new topic.

      You will find some formatting tools available on this page (bold, underline, etc.), and you also have the option to attach a file to your message.

      NOTE
      : If you navigate away from this window while composing a message, or if your browser or Internet service falters while you are composing a message, you will lose anything you have typed!! For lengthy and/or time-consuming posts, it is always better to compose your message off-line first, and then copy/paste it into the CourseSpaces message box. For information on how to do this, go to the Copy/Paste page in this Startup Kit.

      CourseSpaces Forum Posting

    3. Click the Add button to attach a file (if required by your instructor). See the How to Attach Files page in this Startup Kit for further information.
    4. Click the Post to forum button to complete your post. Any attachments you have selected will automatically be sent with your post.
    5. NOTE:  After posting your message, you will have 30 minutes to edit it. During those 30 minutes, you will find an Edit link at the bottom of your posting, next to Reply.
    6. NOTE:  For some forums, you may not be allowed to post a new topic, but only to post replies to a main topic.
     
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    Replying to Messages

    To reply to a message you are reading:

      1. Select Reply in the lower right corner of the post.

        Forum Posting Reply
      2. The new page you go to will already contain a Subject, but you can alter it if you wish. The message to which you are replying is shown at the top of the page.

        You will find some formatting tools available on this page (bold, underline, etc.), and you also have the option to attach a file to your message.

        NOTE
        : If you navigate away from this window while composing a message, or if your browser or Internet service falters while you are composing a message, you will lose anything you have typed!! For lengthy and/or time-consuming posts, it is always better to compose your message off-line first, and then copy/paste it into the CourseSpaces message box. For information on how to do this, go to the Copy/Paste page in this Startup Kit.
      3. Type in your Message.
      4. Click the Add button to attach a file (if required by your instructor). See the How to Attach Files page in this Startup Kit for further information.
      5. Click the Post to forum button to complete your post. Any attachments you have selected will automatically be sent with your post.
       


      Search Forums


      You can search the subject, text (message) and author of the posts within the forums of your CourseSpaces course. You can find the Search forums box in the top right-hand corner of each Topic page within the Discussion Forums.

      You can try the following methods to conduct a search:

      • Keyword Search

        • Enter a suitable term/keyword in the text box beside the Search forums button and click the Search forums button.

        • Posts containing the entered term/keyword in either the subject or text/message will appear; the keyword will be highlighted.

          CourseSpaces Forum Search Results


        • To see one of the posts you have found within the context of its surrounding discussion, select the See this post in context link (located below each posting on the right) in the appropriate post.

        • If your keyword search found no results, you will automatically be forwarded to an Advanced search page.

         

      • Advanced Search

        The advanced search allows you to apply more criteria to your search, including an author’s name and date range of postings.

        CourseSpaces Forum Search Advanced


            • Enter the appropriate search criteria (fields left blank will be ignored) and click the Search forums button.

            • Posts containing the search term(s) criteria will appear; the search term(s) will be highlighted in each post found.

            • In order to see one of the posts you have found within the context of its surrounding discussion, select the See this post in context link (located below each posting on the right) in the appropriate post.

            • If your advanced search found no results, you will be automatically returned to the Advanced search page.

           

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