Add a Forum in Courses

What Does It Do?

The Forums tool creates an online space for both students and professors to have discussions and share public messages with one another.

How You Can Use It

  • Engage students in asynchronous discussion around textbook items, attached documents, or other topics.
  • Embed pictures, audio, or video files and then have students discuss or comment on them.
  • Encourage debate and discussions outside of class time.


  1. Click the tab for your course or project site.
  2. Click Forums in the tools menu.
    Sakai 12 Forums Tool image
  3. Click New Topic.
    • A "Forum" is just a heading that groups multiple Topics. The Conversations happen inside "Topics." If a forum does not contain at least one topic then students cannot participate in discussions.
      Sakai 12 Forums Tool New Topic
  4. Enter the Topic Title.
  5. Enter a Short Description. This description is quickly viewable by students and is strongly recommended.
  6. (Optional) Enter a full Description. The rich text editor offers more room to explain the objectives for the discussion and even embed images or videos.
  7. Click Add attachments if you want to upload documents for the discussion.
  8. Topic Posting:
    • "Lock Topic (Disable topic postings)" - Choose this option to prevent participants from replying or posting new conversations. Participants can still read the previous messages in the topic.
    • "Moderate Topic" - Choose this option if you want to read and approve every message before other participants can view them. While this setting may be appropriate in some K-12 settings, it's rarely used in higher education.
    • "Require users to post before reading" - Choose this option if you want participants to post their own thoughts before reading postings by other users.
  9. Availability:
    • "Show immediately" - This option makes the topic visible to participants once you save it.
    • "Specify dates to open (show) and/or close (hide)" - This option allows you to hide the topic until a release date and/or hide the topic after a future date. You choose to set just an open date, just a close date, or both. NOTE: The close date will hide the topic from participants after the date specified (meaning they can no longer view any messages in that topic). Consider locking the topic at the future date instead of closing it, so that participants can still read the conversations.
  10. Mark All Conversations in Conversations Read:
    • Choose this option if you do not want to display the "New" label for unread messages. Normally, participants need to manually mark each message as read by clicking the envelope icon or clicking the "Mark All as Read" button. With this option selected, all messages in a conversation will be marked as read once you open the first message.
  11. Grading:
    • If you have already created a gradebook item to enter numeric grades or text comments for this discussion item, you may select it from the drop-down menu. After you create a gradebook item, it can take 1-2 minutes before it will appear in the drop-down menu. Refresh your web browser if necessary.
  12. Permissions:
    • Set the desired permissions for each role.
    • TIP: We recommend that you click "Customize" for "Student" and "Access" roles. Under the "Edit Messages" heading, select "Own" to allow participants to edit their own postings.
  13. Click Save.Sakai 12 Forums Save Topic Image


Want to receive notices that someone has posted to your discussion topics? Use the "Watch" feature. This feature is available for professors and students on the home page of the Forums tool.  Click "Watch" and then select the desired option. It will send an email notice when anyone posts a message to any topic or conversation in the Forums tool.

See Also: