On the Internet, discussion boards (also known as message boards, discussion forums, and online forums) were the original social media meeting places. In a nutshell, they are online bulletin boards where people with similar interests can discuss and debate various topics. The Blackboard Discussion tool works in a similar way.┬áIt can enhance communication between you, your peers, and your instructors when used in conjunction with tradtional on-campus courses and provide a forum for discussion in fully online courses.
|Online Discussions: An Overview||General information about the Blackboard Discussions and how to access the tool|
|All About Forums||An overview of how Blackboard forums work|
|Different Ways to View a Forum||Explore the two different ways you can view the forums|
|All About Threads||Learn what a Thread is, how to view them, and sorting their contents|
|Creating a New Thread||Instructions on how to create new threads|
|Inside a Thread: Thread Details||An overview of the Thread Detail page|
|Replying to a Thread and Post||Instructions on how to reply to threads and posts|
|How to Include a Quote in a Reply||Instructions on how to include text from the original post in your reply|
|Editing and Deleting Discussion Posts||How to edit and delete your discussion posts in Blackboard|
|Organizing Discussion Board Posts||How to use the collect tool to organize and filter posts and threads|
|Discussion Board Best Practices||Netiquette tips for online discussion postings|
Online Discussions: An Overview
During your course, you may be asked to use the Discussion Board to introduce yourself, to respond to instructor questions and reply to others, to formulate answers to case studies, or as part of a peer writing and review process. You may even be asked to lead a discussion.
Online discussions provide you with the opportunity to “think before you speak.” You have time to reflect on what you want to say before you enter your response in the system. You are also able to view the responses and perspectives of all your classmates, which is not easily accomplished in a real classroom setting.
Depending on the settings in your individual courses, you can access the Discussion Board through the Course Menu or as a Course Link inside a Learning Module or on a content page that leads to the Discussion Board.
All About Forums
The main Discussion Board page displays a list of available discussion Forums. A Discussion Board can contain one or more Forums. A Forum is an area where a topic or a group of related topics are discussed. For each Forum, the page displays the total number of posts, the number of unread posts, and the total number of participants.
Click on the Forum Name to enter it so that you can read the posts and make posts of your own. Click the Unread Posts to collect all the unread posts into a sortable format.
Different Ways to View a Forum
A forum can be viewed in one of two contexts: Tree View or List View. This choice remains in effect until you change it and it can be changed at any time. These choices are available at the top of the Forum page.
All About Threads
Within a Forum, a list of posts called Threads is displayed either in Tree View or List View. To enter a Thread to review related responses, click on the Thread name. If your instructor allows, you can create a new Thread by clicking Create Thread. To manage which Threads you see, select an option from the Display action menu.
In the list view, threads appear in a Thread Table and can be sorted using the criteria in the table below.
|Thread Table Criteria|
|Date||The date that the Thread was created.|
|Thread||The name of the Thread.|
|Author||The person who created the Thread.|
|Status||The status of a Thread determines whether is can be seen, read, or replied to. Instructors set the Thread status (except draft), but students can select which kind of Threads to display. Use the Display action menu to select which types of Threads to display.
|Unread Posts||Number of posts in the forum that you have not yet accessed.|
|Total Posts||Includes both read and unread posts.|
Creating a New Thread
Forums have many settings that control who can post and what other types of actions users can take, such as editing their 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.
To create a Thread, go to a forum that has thread creation enabled. Click Create Thread to open the Create Thread page. Once on the Create Thread page:
- Type your subject. The text entered here will appear as a link in the forum.
- Type your message.
- Attach a file if desired and if the attachment setting has been turned on.
- Click submit.
If you are not ready to post your Thread, click Save Draft. A copy of your Thread will be saved. To go back and edit it, select Drafts Only from the action menu of the Display button. Click the message subject, and then click Edit.
Inside a Thread: Thread Details
After you’ve posted your initial Thread, you will most likely reply to others in your course, as you would during a regular classroom conversation. Let’s take a look at the Thread Detail page, and then we will discuss how to reply to your fellow participants and classmates.
The Thread Details page has different ways you can mark and classify your messages. Use the check boxes to select messages and perform Message Actions using the drop down action menu. The Thread Details page can also be viewed in several different ways. Use the icons on the right side of the screen to display the page the way you want to see it.
|Thread Detail Page At A Glance|
|Thread Detail Icons||
|Thread Navigation||Use these arrows to navigate between the threads in the selected forum withouth having to leave the Thread Detail page.|
|Thread Tree||Shows all of the posts in a thread in tree view.|
|Post Details||Shows the author of the post, the date it was originally posted, the last date the post was edited, and how may times the post has been viewed by you and overall.|
|Post Message||Displays the content of the post. If it is a reply to another post, click Parent Post to display or hide the parent message in the thread.|
|Thread Header||The Thread Header includes navigation arrows to move between the messages in the thread and buttons to reply, quote and set flag to the post.|
Replying to a Thread and Post
Once you’ve accessed a forum and have entered the Thread, you can reply to anyone who has posted to that thread.
To reply to a post, click the post to which you want to reply. It will open in the lower part of the page. Click Reply to open the Reply to Post page.
- Enter a new subject, or leave unchanged.
- Click View Original Post if you need to reference the post you are replying to.
- Then enter your reply in the message area.
- Include attachments if allowed and desired.
- Click Submit.
How to Include a Quote in a Reply
When responding, click Quote (if enabled) to include the item to which you are responding. The text of the item to which you are responding will automatically appear in your reply. The quote will be indicated with a line to the left.
To reply with a quote to a post, click the post to which you want to reply. It will open in the lower part of the page. Click Quote to open the Reply to Post page.
- Enter a new subject, or leave unchanged.
- The quoted text appears in the message area with a line to the left.
- Enter your reply in the message area beneath the quoted text. If you decide you would not like to include the quoted text, you can simply delete the text from the message area.
- Include attachments if allowed and desired.
- Click submit.
Editing and Deleting 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.
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.
Click Edit to modify the message or click Delete and confirm its removal. These options are located next to the Reply button 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 buttons will not be visible to you.
Organizing Discussion Board Posts
Collecting Threads gathers their posts into a printable, sortable format. Collections are a good way to organize posts for quick reading. Once collected, you may notice that the instructor has “tagged” items. When tags are being used, they will appear at the bottom of the posts. Posts can be filtered and sorted using these tags.
Check the boxes next to the Threads to include in a collection, then click Collect.
- To select all Threads in a Forum, put a check in the Select All box at the top of the Thread Table.
- To select all Threads on the Thread Detail page, click the All link adjacent to the “Select:” text.
You can also sort the threads using a variety of criteria in descending or ascending order. Using the “Sort by” drop-down box, you can select the following options:
- Author’s Last Name
- Author’s First Name
- Subject — Sort threads by subject in alphabetical order
- Date of Last Post — Sort by the date of the last posted message
- Thread Order — Sort in the order the threads were posted to the system.
You can see what the Threads will look like printed by clicking Print Preview. Use the Filter button to open search criteria to locate specific messages.
Best Practices Using the Discussion Board
Now that you’ve learned how to use the tools within the Discussion Board, let’s review a few best practices. Communicating online is different than communicating in person. For instance, you cannot see the other person’s facial expressions or hear the inflection in their voice. As such, we must rely on the conventions of the written word to relay our message and to understand what other people are saying.
In addition to any requirements your instructor may publish, below are some helpful considerations when participating in course discussions online.
- Treat others and their points of view with respect.
- Use proper grammar, spelling and complete sentences.
- Avoid using ALL CAPITALS. That can signify you are yelling.
- Avoid using shortcuts such as “cu l8tr” for “see you later.”
- Think before you type. Provide thorough and thoughtful responses.