The discussions tab in courses allows for faculty and students to interact with one another through discussion forums. Topics within these forums use rich text, allow for attachments and can also be turned into gradable assignments.
Creating New Discussion
Click 'New Discussion'
Click on 'Choose Categories...'
Select a category from the available list or create a new one by typing into the field and clicking 'Add'
Select who can see the the discussion being created
Specify who can reply to the discussion when, and whether it should be gradable
If you choose to make the discussion gradable, you can choose whether or not students see their own grades and specify the weight of the graded discussion.
Click on the 'back' button to return to the title and body of your announcement
Enter the title and body of your post
Specify whether or not you'd like to notify everyone with 'view permission by email'
Leave this unchecked if you do not want it to appear in course notifications for all those enrolled within it.
Add any necessary attachments to the discussion
Click "Save" at the bottom of the page to create the discussion and make it available within the course
After the discussion has been created it will appear in the "Discussions" tab where users can click it's title to view and reply.
Viewing and Replying to Discussions
Whenever you click on a discussion, the body of that discussion will appear towards the lower right hand of the page (1), while the responses to the discussion will appear threaded above it (2). Clicking on any of the responses (3) will open up that particular thread and allow you to submit a reply (4) to it that will be threaded underneath it as well. If for any reason you would prefer a flat view for the discussions, this can be achieved by selecting the "Flat" button towards the top of the topic page.