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Discussion Board

Last Modified
13:26, 23 May 2013

Your instructor and school control which tools are available. If this tool is not available, your instructor or school may have disabled it.

There is an optional update available for the discussion board. To learn about the update and whether or not your school has installed it, see Discussion Board Updates.

The discussion board is a tool for sharing thoughts and ideas about class materials.

Depending on how your instructor set up your course, you access the discussion board from either the course menu or a course area, such as a content area, learning module, lesson plan, or folder.

The main Discussion Board page displays a list of available discussion forums. A forum is an area where users discuss a topic or a group of related topics.

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  1. Click a forum title to view the messages. Forums containing unread posts appear in bold.
  2. View data on the number of posts and participants.
  3. Click the number in the Unread Posts column for one-click access to a forum’s unread messages.

Within each forum, users can create multiple threads. A thread includes the initial post and any replies to it. When creating a forum, your instructor has the option of allowing or not allowing you to start threads. A moderated, graded forum used to evaluate student performance will be tightly controlled, and you cannot create threads. Other forums are designed for users to share opinions and thoughts on tangential or unrelated topics.

Course groups can have their own discussion boards that members create using the groups tool. Group discussion boards are available only to users who are members of the group. If a group discussion board is available, access it from the groups link in the course menu or in the My Groups area.

When moving through the different parts of the discussion board, use the internal navigation, such as the breadcrumbs path and course menu to return to a previous page. Using the browser navigation controls can result in page load errors.

How to Access the Discussion Board

  1. On the course menu, click Discussions.

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    -OR-

    On the course menu, click Tools and select Discussion Board.

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  2. The main Discussion Board page appears.

Viewing a Discussion Forum

When you access a discussion board forum, a list of threads appears with the following information:

  • Date: Displays the date that the thread was created.
  • Thread: Displays the name of the thread.
  • Author: Displays the name of the user who created the thread.
  • Status: Indicates whether the thread is published, locked, hidden, or a draft.
  • Unread Posts: Displays the number of posts not yet accessed.
  • Total Posts: Includes both read and unread posts.

Forum Features

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  1. Use the breadcrumbs to navigate to a previous page. Do not use the browser navigation controls; page load errors may occur.
  2. Use the action bar functions to perform various actions, including:
    • Create Thread: Add a new thread to a forum.
    • Search: Search for Discussion Board content. The search field is collapsed by default to save screen space.
    • Thread Actions: Make a selection from the drop-down list. Edit the status of the selected threads and perform other actions, such as marking threads read or unread and setting or clearing flags. Flags mark threads for later attention.
    • Collect: Gather selected threads onto one page where posts can be sorted, filtered, or printed.
  3. Select one or more threads or select the check box in the header row to select all threads for an action, such as collecting.
  4. Click a thread title to read the posts. Forum titles containing unread posts appear in bold type.
  5. Click Edit Paging to determine the number of items to view per page. Type a number in the box and click Go. Click the X to close the pop-up box.

If your instructor enabled subscribing, you can be alerted by email when new posts are made. Your instructor chooses whether the alerts are for posts made at the forum or thread level.

For forums with the email subscription feature enabled, you will see Subscribe on the action bar. Once you click it, you will receive emails when new posts are made.

Using List View and Tree View in Discussions

After you click a forum title, a page loads displaying all forum threads. You can view the page in either List View or Tree View. This choice remains in effect until you change it and you may change it at any time. On the forum page, in the upper-right corner, toggle between the two views.

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List View

Click List View to present the threads in a table format. Threads containing any unread posts appear in bold type.

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  1. From the action bar, you can create threads, or collect posts. Depending on the settings your instructor made when creating the forum, different functions appear on the action bar. For example, if your instructor allowed tagging, a Tags function appears.
  2. To sort a column, click the column heading or caret.
  3. Select a thread and make a selection from the Thread Actions drop-down list. You can select multiple threads or select the check box in the header to select all threads. The actions include:
    • Marking threads read or unread.
    • Setting or clearing flags. Flags mark threads for later attention.

Tree View

Click Tree View to show the thread starter messages and their replies. From the action bar, you can create threads, or collect posts.

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You can expand and collapse threads by using the plus and minus icons next to the titles. If a thread starter message contains unread posts, the thread starter title appears in bold type. On the action bar, use the Collapse All and Expand All options to hide or view all posts included in all threads.

Select a thread and make a selection from the Message Actions drop-down list on the action bar. You can select multiple threads or select the check box in the header to select all threads. Actions include marking threads read or unread and setting or clearing flags. Flags mark threads for later attention.

About the Thread Detail Page

On the Thread Detail page, you can navigate from post to post, adjust your view of the page, view information about the selected post, and reply to others. 

Your school controls how you view the Thread Detail page. There is a default view and an updated view.

Default View of Thread Detail Page

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  1. On the action bar, you can access functions such as Subscribe, Unsubscribe, or Search. When subscribed to a thread, you receive an email alert when a post is updated or a reply is posted. Your instructor must enable this function when creating a forum. The search field is hidden by default to save screen space.
  2. Select one or more threads and make a selection in the Message Actions drop-down list. Actions include marking threads read or unread and setting or clearing flags. Flags mark threads for later attention. You can also use the functions for collecting posts and selecting all posts.
  3. Arrange your view using the icons on the action bar.
    • Swap Up or Down: Switches the message tree section and the reply section of the screen.
    • Hide or Restore to Minimum: Collapses or displays the message tree section of the screen.
    • Maximize or Minimize: Displays the message tree fully or just a portion of the message tree.
  4. Use the Move to previous message or Move to next message arrows for navigating between messages in the thread.
  5. Click Parent Post to display or hide the parent message in the thread.

How to Create Threads in a Discussion Forum

Forums have many settings that control who can post, and what other types of actions you can take, such as editing your own threads, posting anonymously, or rating posts. Depending on which forum settings your instructor has selected, you may be allowed to create a new thread.

  1. On the course menu, click Discussions.
  2. On the Discussion Board page, click the name of the forum.

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  3. On the forum page, click Create Thread.

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  4. On the Create Thread page, type a Subject.
  5. In the Message text box, type your reply. You can use the content editor functions to format the text and add files, images, web links, multimedia, and mashups.
  6. Alternatively, in the Attachments section, attach a file using one of the following options:
    • To upload a file from your computer, click Browse My Computer.
    • If your school licenses content management, click Browse Content Collection.
  7. Click Submit to create the thread.

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The newly created thread appears in the forum.

If your instructor has associated a rubric with the discussion forum or thread and made it available to students, you can view grading criteria before beginning work. Click Grading Information to access the forum or thread's Grade page.

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Click View Rubric in the Forum Grade section or Thread Grade section to display grading criteria.

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If no associated rubric exists or your instructor has not made any available, the View Rubric function will not be visible.

How to Save Posts as Draft and Submit Later

The Save Draft function is available if you need to return to your post at a later time. This function saves your comments and files on the page.

When you finish your post, you must click Submit to publish the thread in the forum.

  1. On the course menu, click Discussions.
  2. On the Discussion Board page, click the name of the forum.

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  3. On the forum page, click Create Thread.

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  4. On the Create Thread page, type a Subject.
  5. In the Message text box, type your reply. You can use the content editor functions to format the text and add files, images, web links, multimedia, and mashups.
  6. Alternatively, in the Attachments section, attach a file using one of the following options:
    • To upload a file from your computer, click Browse My Computer.
    • If your school licenses content management, click Browse Content Collection.
  7. Click Save Draft to store a draft of the post and continue working later.

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How to Submit a Draft Post

  1. Return to the forum page and point to Display to access the drop-down list.
  2. Select Drafts Only to view the saved post.

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  3. On the Thread Detail page, click the post's title. The post appears in the current post portion of the content frame. You can view the text of the post and information about the post, such as the Author and Posted Date.
  4. Click Edit.

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  5. On the Edit Post page, make the necessary changes in your post. You can use the content editor functions to format the text and add files, images, web links, multimedia, and mashups.
  6. Click Submit.

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How to Change the Displayed Threads

Your instructor sets the thread status as published, hidden, or draft, but you can choose which type of threads will appear. By default, published threads appear.

  1. On the course menu, click Discussions.
  2. On the Discussion Board page, click the name of the forum.

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  3. On the forum page, select List View.
  4. On the action bar, point to Display to access the drop-down list.
  5. Select the type of threads to view in the forum.
    • Published: A post with a published status is available to users.
    • Hidden: A thread that is locked and not visible by default. You may choose to display hidden threads in list view. Hidden threads cannot be edited, even if editing has been enabled for the thread. Hiding threads helps you find relevant content, as unneeded content is hidden from view.
    • Draft: A draft thread is saved to Blackboard Learn by the author for future editing, but is not submitted for publication. It becomes available to other users when it is published.

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The forum page displays only those threads that have the status selected from the Display drop-down list.

How to Reply to Discussion Posts

You can reply to published threads, but cannot reply to locked or hidden threads.

  1. On the course menu, click Discussions.
  2. On the Discussion Board page, click the name of the forum.

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  3. On the forum page, click the name of the thread.

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  4. On the Thread Detail page, click a post's title. The post appears in the current post portion of the content frame. You can view the text of the post and information about the post, such as the Author and Posted Date.
  5. Click Reply. Alternatively, click Quote to include the post's text as part of your reply.

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  6. On the Reply to Post page, click View Original Post on the action bar to include the original message on the page while replying. Click Close Original Post to hide the original post from view. If needed, edit the Subject.

    Your school controls how you view the Thread Detail page. There is a default view and an updated view. The original post is automatically visible in the updated view.

  7. In the Message text box, type your reply. You can use the content editor functions to format the text and add files, images, web links, multimedia, and mashups.
  8. Alternatively, in the Attachments section, attach a file using one of the following options:
    • To upload a file from your computer, click Browse My Computer.
    • If your school licenses content management, click Browse Content Collection.
  9. Click Save Draft to store a draft of the post or click Submit to post the reply. After submitting, you cannot edit or delete your post unless your instructor has enabled those features for the forum. If enabled, Edit or Delete appear next to Reply when viewing your post.

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Your reply appears on the Thread Detail page, indented under the parent post. If you attached a file, a paper clip icon appears in the post's row. Click the title to open the post in the current post portion of the content frame. Use the Move to previous and Move to next arrows to view another post or use the breadcrumbs to return to the forum or the Discussion Board page.

How to Edit or Delete Discussion Posts

You can edit or delete your own posts only if your instructor has made those options available to you. You cannot edit or delete others' posts. If you post a message in error and the option to delete it is not available to you, contact your instructor.

  1. On the course menu, click Discussions.
  2. On the Discussion Board page, click the name of the forum.
  3. On the forum page, click the name of the thread.
  4. On the Thread Detail page, click the title of one of your own posts. The post appears in the current post portion of the content frame.
  5. Click Edit to modify the message or click Delete and confirm its removal. These options are located next to the Reply function if your instructor has selected forum settings that enable you to edit or delete. If your instructor has not selected these settings, the Edit and Delete functions will not be visible to you.

How to Rate Discussion Posts

You can use the discussion board for peer review. Students start threads and include their work in their initial posts. Other users review the work, assign a rating to the initial post, and may include comments in a response.

Rating posts also allows you to focus on messages considered informative or useful by others. Depending on the forum settings, you can rate a post using a five star system. Your instructor can also rate posts.

  1. On the course menu, click Discussions.
  2. On the Discussion Board page, click the name of the forum.

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  3. On the Forum page, click the name of the thread.

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  4. On the Thread Detail page, click a post's title. The post appears in the current post portion of the content frame.
  5. For Your Rating, select one to five stars. You can add and delete stars at any time.

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Your rating is now included in the Overall Rating, which is the combined rating of all users. The individual rating appears in Your Rating. Use the Move to previous and Move to next arrows to view another post.

How to Search Discussion Posts

You can search for specific text—a phrase, word, part of a word, or a name —in the discussion board. The results appear on a Search Results page.

  1. On the course menu, click Discussions.
  2. On the Discussion Board page, click Search. The Search field expands.
  3. In the Search text box, type search criteria, including any keywords or names you want to find.
  4. In the drop-down list, select an area to search.
    • Current Discussion Board
    • All Forums in Course
  5. To further narrow your search results, select the After and Before check boxes to enable the date and time selections. Type dates and times in the boxes or use the pop-up Date Selection Calendar and Time Selection Menu to select dates and times.
  6. Click Go.

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On the Search Results page, you can read and print the results. On the action bar, click Print Preview to open the page in a new window in printer-friendly format. Posts print in the order they appear on the page. To select which posts appear and in which order, you can filter and sort posts using the Filter function and the Sort by and Order drop-down lists on the action bar.

On this page, you can also reply to posts and mark messages read or unread. Click the Quote function to include the post's text as part of your reply. To view the responses to a post, click the post's hyperlinked title to navigate to the Thread Detail page.

You can also select the check box to collect multiple posts for reading or printing.

How to Collect Discussion Posts

On the Thread Detail page, you can read only one post at a time. Use the Collect function to read multiple posts from the same page. After posts are collected, you can filter, sort, and print them.

  1. On the course menu, click Discussions.
  2. On the Discussion Board page, click the name of the forum.

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  3. On the Forum page, click the name of the thread.

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  4. On the Thread Detail page, select the check boxes of the posts to collect. If a post has replies and you want them to appear on the Collection page, click the plus sign to expand the post and select the check boxes for those messages.

    To select all the posts in a thread, click Select: All above the message List. All check boxes for all the posts are selected whether they are expanded or collapsed.

  5. On the action bar, click Collect.

    The Collect function is also available in the forum page, where it is used to gather all the postings made to different threads. Once collected, sort the messages to further organize them.

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On the Search Results page, you can read and print the results. On the action bar, click Print Preview to open the page in a new window in printer-friendly format. Posts print in the order they appear on the page. To select which posts appear and in which order, you can filter and sort posts using the Filter function and the Sort by and Order drop-down lists on the action bar.

On this page, you can also reply to posts and mark messages read or unread. Click the Quote function to include the post's text as part of your reply. To view the responses to a post, click the post's hyperlinked title to navigate to the Thread Detail page.

How to Filter Discussion Posts After Searching or Collecting

You can filter collected posts to narrow your search results or sort a collection. If you print the posts after filtering, the posts print in the order they appear on the page.

If the author or authors of some posts are no longer enrolled in the course, the posts may appear out of order.

  1. On the course menu, click Discussions.
  2. On the Discussion Board page, click the name of the forum.

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  3. On the forum page, click the name of the thread.

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  4. On the Thread Detail page, select the check boxes of the posts to collect.
  5. On the action bar, click Collect.

    The Collect function is also available from the forum page, where it is used to gather all the postings made to different threads. Once collected, sort the messages to further organize them.

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  6. On the Collection page, click the Filter function on the action bar to expand the field and select options from the following drop-down lists:
    • Author: Select All or select an author.
    • Status: Show All or select a status.
    • Read Status: Select Show All, Read, or Unread posts.
    • Tags: Show All tags or select a tag.
  7. Click Go to apply the selections. You can further organize the results using the Sort by and Order drop-down lists.
  8. Click the X to close the Filter field.

    You can select Tags if your instructor has enabled post tagging for the forum.

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How to Sort Discussion Posts After Searching or Collecting

To narrow your search results or sort a collection, you can use the Sort by and Order drop-down lists. If you print the posts after sorting, the posts print in the order they appear on the page.

If the author or authors of some posts are no longer enrolled in the course, the posts may appear out of order.

  1. On the course menu, click Discussions.
  2. On the Discussion Board page, click the name of the forum.

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  3. On the forum page, click the name of the thread.

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  4. On the Thread Detail page, select the check boxes of the posts to collect.
  5. On the action bar, click Collect.

    The Collect function is also available from the forum page, where it is used to gather all the postings made to different threads. After collected, sort the messages to further organize them.

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  6. On the Collection page, point to Sort by on the action bar to access the drop-down list. Select an option:
    • Author's Last Name
    • Author's First Name
    • Subject
    • Date of Last Post
    • Thread Order
  7. On the action bar, point to Order to access the drop-down list. Sort posts in ascending or descending order.

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How to View Discussion Board Grades

  1. On the course menu, click Tools.
  2. On the Tools page, click My Grades.

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  3. If your posts to the forum have not been graded, the Grade column contains a symbol indicating its status. If your post has been submitted and graded, the grade appears in the Grade column. To view more detail, click the link to see the post's Grade Forum page. This page includes:
    • Forum Statistics: This section shows information about your posts, such as Date of Last Post, Average Post Length, and Average Post Position.
    • Forum Grade: This section provides information about your Grade, instructor's Feedback, and Grading Notes.
    • Contributors: This section shows other users who participated in the forum.

If you see feedback for an item but do not see a grade, contact your instructor.

If your instructor has used a rubric for grading, click View Rubric to display detailed grading information.

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If there is no associated rubric or your instructor has not made it available, the View Rubric function will not be visible.

How to Moderate Discussion Board Content

As an discussion Moderator, your role is to facilitate the conversation and exchange of ideas on the Discussion forum. You need to ensure that participants feel comfortable to share, while also monitoring responses and keeping everyone focused and on track. At the same time, you want to be careful not to dominate or impede the flow of the discussion.

Occasionally, participants may introduce material to the discussion board that is inappropriate for the class discussion. Depending on the maturity and the sensitivity of the participants in your course, it can be important to review participant posts for inappropriate content before sharing posts with the rest of the class.

When a moderated forum is created, all posts to the forum are added to a moderation queue. The moderator reviews each post and does one of the following:

  • Publishes the post.
  • Returns the post to the sender without a message.
  • Returns the post to the sender with a message.

The moderator can delete, edit, and lock posts in a forum, even if the forum does not use the moderation queue.

  1. After posts have been submitted, access the forum. In the Moderator view, no posts appear because the messages are waiting approval. On the action bar, click Moderate Forum.

    The Moderate Forum function appears only to those users who have a forum role of Manager or Moderator. In the student view, the author can see the post in Tree View with a reminder it is in the Moderation Queue.

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  2. On the Moderation Queue page, the posts appear in alphabetical order by title. Click the column title or caret to sort by post title, author, or date. To review a post, click Moderate.

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  3. On the Moderate Post page, read the post and select the Publish or Return option. Published messages are immediately posted to the thread.
  4. Optionally, type feedback in the text box. You can use the content editor functions to format the text, link to files in Course Files or the Content Collection, and include web links, multimedia, and mashups.

    Though feedback is optional, this is an opportunity to provide guidance, ask questions, redirect a student's focus, and explain why a post was returned.

  5. Click Submit.

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Returned posts no longer appear in the moderation queue. Students see their returned posts in the forum. When returned posts are opened, students see an explanation, if feedback was included, and they can create new threads as needed.

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Why Can't I See My Discussion Post

If you have composed a post and now you cannot see it, you should:

  • Check if you accidentally saved it as a draft. Return to the forum page and point to Display to access the drop-down list.
  • Click Search at the top of the Discussion Board, Forum, or Thread Detail pages and search for a term you used in your lost message.

When composing long messages, write them offline in a word processing program or notepad that can be saved locally, and then paste the message into Discussions. This can provide you with peace of mind as well as a way to recover your work in case of technical difficulties.

Related Tutorials   Flash video  Creating a New Thread (Flash video | 1m 52s | 4,750 KB)

Flash video  Replying to a Thread (Flash video | 1m 59s | 5,083 KB)

Flash video  Creating a Discussion Board Post (Flash video | 2m 40s | 5,135 KB)

Flash video  Organizing Discussion Board Posts (Flash video | 2m 27s | 4,624 KB)

Flash video  Viewing Discussion Board Grades (Flash video | 1m 38s | 3,181 KB)

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