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Discussion Forum Tips

The discussion forum is the place for students to post questions, answers, and comments. (This help forum is running free bulletin board software called "phpbb.") Students are encouraged to answer others' questions, and to post information that may be helpful to other students.

Points to remember:

For information on how the discussion forum affects your grade, see the grades page for your course.

How to register for the discussion forum

You can read the discussion forum without logging in, but to post to the discussion forum, you must log in with your forum user name and password. If you have never used the discussion forum before, you must first register, which is how you create your user name and password:

  1. Note that this process to create an account on the discussion forum will only work when the instructor has unlocked the forum; if you get a message that says the user name that you chose is not allowed, the forum is locked to prevent unauthorized accounts from being created.
  2. On the TeacherJohn home page at "" you will see a link to the help forum home page. Go to the discussion forum home page, click on the link near the top right of the page that says "Register" and you will be taken to the "Registration Agreement terms" page. After you agree to the terms you will be taken to the registration form.
  3. Fill out the registration form. You will be asked to create a user name and a password, and to enter your email address. (You may leave the Profile Information section blank, and may leave the Preferences section as it is for now.) You must use your real first name and last initial for your user name so that I can tell who you are (if I don't know who you are, I can't give you credit for participating). Your user name (but not your password) can contain a space (such as “Mary S”). Your user name is the only thing you cannot change once your account is created; all the other information can be changed later, if you wish. You will be asked to type your password twice, to make sure you have made no errors. You must also supply a valid email address. If you do not use your real first name and last initial for your user name, your user account may be deleted and you will have to set it up again. More likely, I will change your user name.
  4. Write down your user name and password — exactly as you created them, including any capitals, as they are case-sensitive.
  5. After you click on the "Submit" button, you will be taken back to the welcome page.
  6. Go back to the discussion forum home page, click on the link near the top right of the page that says "Log in" and then enter your user name and password.

Note: If you are in more than one of my classes, you only need to create one user name that you will use for all classes.

How to use the discussion forum

You will see discussion forums for different classes; make sure you post to the appropriate forum. At the top of the list of forums you will see a "Practice Forum." The Practice Forum is where you can experiment with using the help forum software. After you are comfortable with how to post and reply, then you can use the real forum

Note that there is online help (see the "FAQ" link near the top of any forum page).

Naming topics

When you create a new topic, you must give it a name. Give the topic an appropriate name; it must be descriptive enough so that someone searching through the list of topics can easily tell what the discussion thread is about. For example:

Good topic names:

Bad topic names:

You will not receive credit for posts with topic names that are not descriptive.

How to count your posts

To easily see how many posts (and replies to post)s that you have made:

  1. Log in to the forum.
  2. Click the "User Control Panel" link (near the top left of the page). Note: do not click the "view your posts" link; this will list each thread that you have posted in, but will not list each post.
  3. Click the "Show your posts" link (near the middle of the page).

You can now see each of your posts (including replies), along with the dates of each post. Note that, for the purpose of grading, posts are totalled separately for each period. The couse schedule page lists the deadlines for posting.

Note that credit is not given for posts that are not relevant to the course material, posts without properly descriptive topic names, posts not in the proper forum, posts in the Test forum, or posts which do not conform with what the instructor requires (such as a specific topic for a specific week).

How use an avatar

To use an avatar with this forum:
1) Log in.
2) Click the "User Control Panel" link in the upper left.
2) Click the "Profile" tab.
4) Click the "Edit Avatar" link on the left.

At this step you can either use an avatar from the gallery (avatars that I pre-installed for students to use) or you can upload your own avatar image file.

To use a pre-installed avatar:
5) Click the "Display Gallery " button.
6) Choose a category from the drop-down menu and click "Go."
7) Select your avatar and click the "Submit" button.

To use your own avatar, you will need to start with an image that is no larger than 100x100 pixels that you have on your disk.
5) Click the "Choose File" button.
6) Navigate to the image on your disk.
7) Click the "Submit" button.