I have questions about the following statement in the Using Forum documentation:
Note: Single simple discussions cannot be set to separate groups (as this feature is not implemented). Instead, a standard forum should be used. If required, a permissions override may be set to prevent students from starting new discussions. For teachers who have access to all or several groups in a forum, this setting allows them to post the same message once only to all groups.
My dream is to be able to have single simple discussions with either separate groups or visible groups. The first sentence in the above note seems to hint that, maybe, single simple discussions could be set to use visible groups. Although I can indeed set it to visible groups (separate groups too, for that matter), I haven't been able to make it work: Students see no dropdown menu to select which group they want to see; instead they see, and can reply to, anyone's post in anyone's group. Is there any way to make it work? The single simple discussion settings don't have that "Post a copy to all groups" option that magically makes things work with standard forums.
OK, so I knew that was overly optimistic. My next option springs from the second sentence in the above note: Use a standard forum in which students can no longer start new discussions. If I make that change, then do I assume correctly that it's global: students will be unable to start new discussions anywhere in the course? That would be unfortunate, though not a deal-breaker.
The only other way that I can see to mimic a single simple discussion (with groups) is to use a standard forum, and in the forum instructions that I write, make a strong plea that students not click that prominent and very-inviting "Add a new discussion topic" button. That might be overly optimistic, but I could try it.