The tools available to you will differ from Course to Course depending upon what has been enabled/disable by your lecturer.
When you view the thread page, all posts and the forum description appear on one page. Forum descriptions are often used as prompts for discussion and are visible where you are posting. Large images of course members help you easily identify authors.
To help make replying easy, the content editor appears immediately below the message you are replying to. You are not taken to a new page to post a reply, allowing you to refer to any post on the page.