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Discussions let students communicate asynchronously with each other and teaching staff on a particular topic.

Quick Start Guide


It's not currently possible to post anonymously to a discussion or to subscribe for notifications of when posts are made. However, these features will be available in the future. For now we recommend using a Padlet board for anonymous discussions, or discussions you need to subscribe to.

Video Steps

Video: Setting up discussions in Ultra.

Create a discussion

  1. In the Course Content area, hover where the discussion should appear. Click the plus icon then Create. Click the plus icon then Create.
    Clicking the plus icon between two content items in the Course Content area and then clicking Create
  2. Under Participation and Engagement, select Discussion.
    Discussion item with speech bubble icon selected
  3. Click the default "New Discussion" title and name the discussion.
    Default 'New Discussion' title ready to update
  4. Add instructions and/or a first post using the text editor. Text editor box with placeholder instruction text
  5. Click Save.

Access a discussion

Users can access discussions in two locations:

  • In the Course Content area where it was created. For example in a weekly materials section.
    Course content area: Week 2 section containing lecture and discussion
  • In the dedicated Discussions area reached from the top navigation bar. You can also create a discussion here.
    Discussion area containing all discussions on site

Delete a discussion

  1. Click the three dots to the right of the discussion name.
  2. Select Delete.
    Discussion item with three dots clicked and Delete shown in drop down menu.
  3. When prompted, press Delete again.
  4. Go to the Discussions area and check that the discussion does not appear here too. If it does, repeat this process.

Using discussions to support teaching

Discussions can be set up in various ways to support different teaching and learning activities.

Assign to groups

You can split a discussion for different groups of students. For example, to:

  • make a discussion easier to manage for large student cohorts.
  • provide a discussion space for each seminar group.
  • support project or collaborative work.

Discussion item assigned to groups with group icon and '3 groups' shown under title

To assign a discussion to groups:

  1. Create and set up the discussion (only one is needed for all groups).
  2. Click the Discussion Settings cog icon.
  3. Under Additional tools, click Group discussion/Assign to groups.
    Part of group settings pane showing Group discussion/assign to groups
  4. Assign students by setting up new groups (see our Groups guide for details) or reusing existing groups.
  5. Click Save.

To view each group's discussion:

  1. Open the discussion.
  2. Select the group name from the drop-down menu below the instructions. An open discussion with menu showing three group names appearing below the instructions.

You can also limit discussion visibility using Release Conditions. However, this method requires a separate discussion for each group, so it needs more care to set up and manage. See our Release conditions guide for details.

Post first

You can require students to post a reply before they can see other students' posts. For example, students could:

  • summarise a topic/key points from a reading before they see other students' ideas.
  • create multiple choice questions for other students to test their understanding.
  • create their own discussion question before responding to other questions.

Post first message in student view: Post a response to see discussion activity

To set up post first:

  1. Open the discussion and click the Discussion Settings cog icon.
  2. Tick the Post first option.
    Post first option ticked in the Details & Information section of Discussion settings pane
  3. Click Save.

Mark discussion

You can also grade discussions. This could be useful to:

  • use a discussion as a summative assessment.
  • give 1 point to show students you've reviewed their formative response.
  • use a marking rubric to grade and give feedback.

Due date and marking details shown for a marked discussion

To mark a discussion:

  1. Open the discussion and click the Discussion Settings cog icon.
  2. Click Mark discussion.
    Mark discussion option ticked in the Details & Information section of Discussion settings pane
  3. In the Marking and Participation section, set the due date and how the discussion is marked.
    Settings to adjust due date, mark category, mark using points/percent, maximum points
  4. If desired, Add marking rubric. You can create a rubric here or reuse a rubric already in your site.
    Additional Tools section with option to add marking rubric

  5. Click Save.