Discussion Forums

Forums can appear throughout a Course, in any area where an Instructor chooses. Each group may also have a private Discussion Board with Forums available only to those users that are a part of the group.

All Forums that are not a part of a group can be accessible from various points in the Course or by going to the Discussion Board links.

There are three ways to access the Discussion Board.

  1. Through the Course Menu -- If a Discussion link or button was established in the course menu click on the link.
  2. Through Tools Menu (this option may vary from course to course) -- Click on the Communication link in course menu and then, click on the Discussion Board link.
  3. Through a course materials folder (this access method will vary from course to course)

Click on the titles below to learn more about discussion tool.

Viewing Discussion Forums

The Forum view lists the threads in the Forum and includes several options for displaying and managing threads. The Forum can be viewed in one of two contexts: Tree View or List View. This choice remains in effect until the user changes it; it can be changed at any time.

discussion bar

The Tree View presents the thread starter messages and their responses messages.

forum  tree view

  1. Response messages can be expanded and collapsed by using the plus/minus icon next to each starter message.
  2. Unread threads and posts are displayed in bold type; if a thread starter message has unread responses, then the thread starter message is displayed in bold if the response messages are collapsed.

The List View presents the list of threads in a tabular format. The threads can be sorted by clicking the carat at the top of each column.

list view

Replying to a Message

Click the "Reply" or "Quote" button either at the top of the message or at the foot of a message to post a response. Your new message will be added to the end of the thread.

open  reply

  1. Note that your reply’s subject is based on that of the original message – it is often a good idea to edit this so it summarizes your reply - for example ""Designing well-controlled clinical trials " rather than "Re: Session 4: Special Issues ". A descriptive subject will help everyone follow the thread and make it easy to identify each message.
    post  reply
  2. Type your response in the Message field.
  3. When you are ready, click on the "Submit" button to post your reply. Alternatively, click on the "Preview" button to read through your message before you post it and check that it is readable and makes good sense!

Tips on Writing Effective Messages

  • Keep them brief – no one wants to read lengthy messages
  • Write clearly and pay attention to spelling – this is academic work
  • Tie personal experiences to the concepts being studied, giving an orderly, brief version of the experience, with a point that is stated clearly
  • Incorporate ideas shared by others and the instructor to create a "fuller picture" of the concepts under review
  • Criticize the idea, not the person! Be constructive and offer your alternative ideas
  • Be aware that jokes and irony can easily be misunderstood and cause offence
  • Contact your instructor by email if a message upsets you
  • You may wish to compose your messages in a word processor, spell-check the text and then copy-and-paste it to Blackboard ad
Adding New Discussion Threads

Threads are a series of posts related to a similar topic. When creating a Forum, the Instructor has the option of allowing or not allowing students to start threads. If the instructor has enabled the ability to start threads.

  1. Select the Discussion Board you wish to modify.
  2. Then select the forum you want to add a thread to.
    add new  thread
  3. Next click on the add [Thread] button in the tools menu. The Add Thread screen will be displayed.
    add  thread
  4. Enter a title for the thread in the Subject text box.
  5. Enter conversation text in the Message text box.
  6. Optional field: Attachments can be added to the threads if the feature was activated when the forum was created.
    • Click on the “Attach a file” link to add a file. A Browse form field will be displayed.
    • Click on the [Browse] button. A File Upload screen will be displayed.
    • Navigate to the file to be attached.
    • Click on the [Open] button in the “File Upload” window to add the file to the thread
  7. Click the [Submit] button to add and post your message to the discussion forum.