A discussion board is a place that can encourage students to actively share and discuss ideas. This, in turn, will hopefully promote deeper thinking through the discussions and dialogues that ensue, as well as encouraging collaboration outside of the classroom environment. In addition, it provides a record of discussion that can be reviewed at a later point. Refer the Good Practice guide on Blackboard Discussion Board for recommendation and ideas to help integrate discussion boards as part of your teaching and learning.
A discussion board can address any number of topics to suit your module requirements. Discussion boards in Blackboard can be created for the entire module or for individual groups (if you are using Groups in your module). This help guide looks at the discussion board for the entire module. It is recommended that you also review the Discussion Board guide for students.
Discussion Board Structure
A discussion board consists of forums. You can have multiple forums within your module discussion board, with each one having a separate purpose. Forums contain threads, which are like conversations. A thread contains the initial post and all replies to it. Students can create threads and reply to other threads, depending on the options you specify when setting up the forum.
Creating a Link to the Discussion Board Page
The Discussion Board Page contains a list of all the forums you have created for your module. You can create a link to the Discussion Board Page either on the main navigation menu of your module, or inside a content area (e.g. “Learning Materials”). You can also link directly to individual forums within a content area.
- To put a link on the navigation menu, ensure Edit Mode is switched ON (top-right corner of your module) and then hover your mouse over the plus (+) button at the top of the navigation menu.
- Select Tool Link from the menu that appears; enter a suitable Name for the link (e.g. My Discussions) and select Discussion Board from the Type drop-down list. Check the Available to Users box and click Submit. The link will be added to the bottom of the menu.
- In a content area, such as Learning Materials, hover over the Tools button and then click Discussion Board on the menu, as shown. You are presented with several options:
- Create a link to the entire course discussion board (which displays all forums) by selecting Link to Discussion Board Page.
- Link to a specific forum within the discussion board (if any exist) by selecting Select a Discussion Board Forum and then highlighting the appropriate forum in the list.
- Create a new forum and then create a link to it by clicking on the Create New Forum button.
- In the image shown to the left, two links have been created. The item at the top called “Q & A” is a link to a specific forum within the discussion board, as mentioned in step 5. The second item called “Discussion Board” is a link to the Discussion Board Page, as mentioned in step 4.
Creating New Forums
As a staff member, it is your responsibility to add forums to a module discussion board. The exception to this rule is in a group discussion board; here, students can create their own forums. You can create a new forum in two different ways:
- Go to the Discussion Board Page and click the Create Forum button, as shown right.
- From the Tools menu in a content area, click Discussion Board, and then click on the Create New Forum button, as mentioned in step 3.
On the Create Forum page, you have a number of options for configuring the forum.
- Enter a Name for the forum.
- Optionally enter a Description – this should ideally provide some instructions as to what the forum should be used for.
- Set the Forum Availability. By default, the availability will be set to Yes. If required, you can use the Display After and Display Until to limit when the forum is available to students.
- Choose appropriate Forum Settings (each setting is described further below). Forum Settings are grouped into related areas on the page, making it easier to scan and select options. Settings that are not available based on the current selections are greyed out or have strike-through text.
- Click on Submit to create your new forum.
Overview of Forum Settings
Standard View: this is the default setting; all users can view threads in a forum and create new threads.
Participants must create a thread in order to view threads in this forum: Known as “Post First”, this requires students to create a thread before they can view other threads in the forum. It may encourage them to think more about what they are writing rather than mirroring what others have written.
You can optionally grade a discussion forum and students’ participation in it. Choose Grade Discussion Forum and enter a Points Possible value. This enables you to evaluate students on participation throughout a forum and creates a related column in the Grade Centre. You can also enter a Due Date and choose how often the “needs grading” status appears in the Grade Centre—after X number of posts.
You can choose to allow subscriptions to either the discussion forum or to individual threads. Select either Allow members to subscribe to threads or Allow members to subscribe to forum, depending on your preference. Users subscribe by clicking the Subscribe button in a thread/forum. When subscribed, users receive an email whenever there is a new post or reply. You can choose what is displayed in this email – either Include body of post in the email or simply Include link to post.
Create and Edit
Allow Anonymous Posts: check this option if you want to allow students to be able to post threads without revealing their name. If set, a check box labelled “Post Message as Anonymous” will be available when creating a new thread. If the student checks the box, the thread will be posted by “Anonymous”. Note – if you choose to Grade Threads, then you can’t allow anonymous posting.
Allow Author to Delete Own Posts: check this option if you want to allow students to delete their own posts. Note that deleted posts cannot be recovered.
Allow Author to Edit Own Published Posts: check this option if you want to allow students to edit any of their own posts.
Allow Members to Create New Threads: you almost certainly want this option checked so that students can create threads in the forum.
Allow File Attachments: this lets students attach documents and other files when posting to the forum.
Force Moderation of Posts: check this option if you wish to moderate posts before they are published to the forum. Click the Moderate button in the forum to view posts which need moderating.
Allow Post Tagging: check this option if you want to be able to “tag” posts. A tag is like a keyword which can be used to group similar threads together.
Allow Members to Rate Posts: check this option if you want students to rate the quality of other posts, based on a star rating of 1 to 5.