Restricting access to discussion forums and topics

You can restrict access to forums and topics in four ways:

Any restrictions you place on a forum also apply to all topics within the forum.

  1. Hiding a discussion forum or topic
  2. Locking a discussion forum or topic
  3. Setting release conditions for a discussion forum or topic
  4. Setting group and section restrictions for a discussion forum or topic
  5. Automatically create restricted discussion topics for all groups in a category or sections
  6. Restricting access to shared forums

Hiding a discussion forum or topic

Hidden topics are not displayed on the main discussions page (except for users with permission to see hidden forums and topics or to manage discussions). By hiding topics, you can control which topics users can access at different times throughout the course. For example, you could create weekly discussion topics for users to reflect on the material covered in each week of the course and make each topic available for one week only.

You can specify start and end dates for when a forum or topic is visible so you can set up visibility ahead of time to match your course’s calendar.

Tip  Instead of scheduling a topic to disappear as soon as you want the discussion to end, consider locking the topic at that point and keeping it visible for another few days. This allows users to review the discussion after it has closed so that they don’t miss the last messages added.

Hide a forum or topic

  1. On the Discussions List page, click Edit from the context menu of the forum or topic you want to hide. You can also set visibility options when creating a new forum or topic.
  2. In the Availability section of the Properties tab, select the options you want:
    • To hide the forum or topic immediately, select Hide this forum or Hide this topic. The forum or topic will remain hidden until you select Forum is always visible or Topic is always visible again.
    • To hide the forum or topic until a certain date or after a certain date, select Forum is visible for a specific date range or Topic is visible for a specific date range, then select Has Start Date or Has End Date and specify the dates.
  3. Click Save.

Locking a discussion forum or topic

Locking a topic prevents users from posting new messages or modifying existing messages, essentially making the conversation “read only.” (Users with permission can modify the contents of a locked topic.) Locking a topic can be an effective way of closing a conversation while allowing users to refer back to messages.

You can specify start and end dates for when a forum or topic is unlocked so you can set things up ahead of time to match your course’s calendar.

Tip  Consider locking a topic to end a conversation, then using a pinned message to post a summary inside topic. This way when users access the topic your summary appears at the top.

Lock a forum or topic

  1. On the Discussions List page, click Edit from the context menu of the forum or topic you want to hide. You can also set visibility options when creating a new forum or topic.
  2. In the Locking section of the Properties tab, select the options you want:
    • To lock the forum or topic immediately, select Lock forum or Lock topic. The forum or topic will remain locked until you select Unlock forum or Unlock topic again.
    • To open the forum or topic within a date range, select Unlock forum for a specific date range or Unlock topic for a specific date range, then select Has Start Date or Has End Date and specify the dates.
  3. Click Save.

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Setting release conditions for a discussion forum or topic

Release conditions enable you to specify requirements that users must satisfy before they can access a discussion forum or topic.

For example, you might require that users view a content topic or submit an assignment to a dropbox folder before accessing a discussion topic. Or, you might create an extra-help discussion topic for users who fail a particular quiz.

Add release conditions to a forum or topic

  1. On the Discussions List page, click Edit from the context menu of the forum or topic you want to hide. You can also set visibility options when creating a new forum or topic.
  2. In the Release Conditions section of the Restrictions tab, do one of the following:
    • If you have already created a release condition elsewhere and want to attach it to this forum or topic, click Attach Existing. Select the conditions you want to add, then click Attach.
    • If you want to add a new release condition that does not already exist, click Create and Attach. Enter the details for the new release condition, then click Create.
  3. In the drop-down list above the listed conditions, choose whether access to the forum or topic is dependent on meeting All of the following conditions, or Any of the following conditions.
  4. Click Save.

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Remove release conditions from a forum or topic

  1. On the Discussions List page, click Edit from the context menu of the forum or topic you want to hide. You can also set visibility options when creating a new forum or topic.
  2. In the Release Conditions section of the Restrictions tab, do one of the following:
    • Click the Remove Condition icon beside each condition you want to remove.
    • To remove all conditions, click the Remove All Conditions icon at the top of the list of conditions.
  3. Click Save.

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Setting group and section restrictions for a discussion forum or topic

You can restrict a forum or topic so that it is only accessible to members of a specific group or section. This enables you to:

Note  You must create groups or sections before you can set group or section restrictions.

Restrict a single forum or topic

  1. Do one of the following:
    • On the Discussions List page, click Edit from the context menu of the forum or topic you want to hide. You can also set visibility options when creating a new forum or topic.
    • If you are creating a new forum or topic, you can create group restrictions after clicking Save.
  2. In the Group Restrictions section section of the Restrictions tab, select the Restrict this forum to the following groups or Restrict this topic to the following groups check box.
  3. Click Add Groups.
  4. In the Add Groups window, select a Group Category from the drop-down list. Select “Sections” to restrict access to sections.
  5. Select the groups or sections.
  6. Click Add.
  7. Click Save.

To remove a group’s access, click the Delete this item icon beside the group and then click Save.

To open the forum or topic to everyone again, clear the Restrict this forum to the following groups check box or Restrict this topic to the following groups check box and click Save.

Restrict multiple forums or topics simultaneously

  1. On the Discussions List page, click Group Restrictions from the tool navigation.
  2. Select a Group Category from the drop-down list. Select “Sections” to restrict access to sections.
  3. Select the Forum containing the topics you want to restrict, or select “All Forums” from the drop-down list.
  4. To restrict a forum or topic to specific groups or sections, select the check box in the Restricted column, then select the groups you want to have access to the forum or topic.
  5. Click Save.

To open a forum or topic to everyone, clear the check box in the Restricted column and click Save.

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Automatically create restricted discussion topics for all groups in a category or sections

You can automatically create a discussion topic for each group in a selected category. Topics are named after the group categories and groups they are associated with.

  1. On the Discussions List page, click Group Restrictions from the tool navigation.
  2. Click the Automatically create restricted topics link.
  3. Select a Group Category from the drop-down list. Select “Sections” to create topics for each section.
  4. Select from the Forum drop-down list where to create the topics. If you want to create a new forum for the restricted topics, click New Forum.
  5. Click Create.

Create section-restricted discussions

If your course has multiple sections and you want to offer separate but identical discussion topics for each section, follow these steps:

  1. Create a new forum. This forum is for the first section.
  2. Create all of the topics for your course within that forum.
  3. Copy the forum for each additional section, selecting the option to include topics.
  4. Go to the Group Restrictions page and restrict each forum to one of the sections in your course.

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Restricting access to shared forums

Anyone enrolled in an org unit with shared forums who has permission to see discussions can access all shared forums and topics in that org unit. You cannot restrict access within the org unit to subsets of users. For example, you cannot create a faculty discussion forum and a user event planning forum inside the Math department, and prevent users from accessing the faculty forum while giving them access to the user one. Each user will either have access to both forums or neither forum, depending on their permissions in the Math department.

To restrict access to shared forums, you must use enrollment and permissions.

But what if you also want to provide forums for users in the same department? Shared forums can also be created for any custom org unit type, so you could create a custom type in your organization structure to shadow each department.

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