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Parts of a Discussion: Forums and Topics

In Pilot, every discussion has to have at least two parts: a Forum and a Topic. A forum is like a folder. It organizes things, but it’s what’s inside the folder that counts. A topic is what goes inside the forum. Topics are where discussions actually take place. If you don’t have topics, you won’t have discussions.

Every topic has to be in a forum. A forum can have as many topics as you want, but must have at least one.

Troubleshooting Tip

If you seem to have discussions set up, but your students say they don’t see them, chances are you have made forums but have not included topics.

Create a Forum

To get started, click “Communication” on your course navbar, then click “Discussions.”

Click the blue “New” button and choose “New Forum.”

On the “New Forum” page, add a title for your forum. A “Description” is optional, but can be a good place to include instructions for discussions.

Video: Create a Forum


Options you apply for the forum will affect all the topics within that forum.

The four options beneath the description box explain themselves. A popular option is to check “Users must start a thread before they can read and reply to other threads in each topic.” In short, that requires students to post their own work before they can see others’.

Availability vs Locking Options

Further down the page when you’re creating a forum, you’ll find two sections that determine students’ access to the forum—and all the topics in it:

Video: Lock a Discussion


For forums, the “Restrictions” tab lets you make a forum available based on “Release Conditions,” such as whether the student has viewed a specific content topic, posted in a particular topic, etc.

Under “Group and Section Restrictions,” you can limit access to a forum to only the students in a group or section. This is especially helpful when you want students to do activities in small break-out groups.

There is a speedy way to create topics for groups. At the time that you create the groups for your course, have Pilot also create discussion items for the groups.

Create Topics

A forum is useless without a topic. To create a new topic, do one of the following.

For more on Topics, see the Create Topics page