Community College of Rhode Island

Go to 50th Anniversary website

Get Adobe Reader

*PDF files require Adobe Acrobat Reader to view - Download here

Creating Discussions

Creating Discussions
Discussion Board

The Discussion Board often becomes the classroom in online learning. It is the place where questions are answered, ideas are exchanged, and students discuss the course topics and concepts. It can replicate the robust discussions that take place in the traditional classroom.

A Discussion Board contains:

  • Forums - Where a topic or group of related topics are discussed.
  • Threads - Within each forum, which are the initial posts and any replies.

The discussions are sequentially logged and displayed so all the audience members can follow the conversation.

Online discussions provide some unique benefits. Since students can take time to ponder before posting ideas, you may see more thoughtful conversations play out. You can observe as students demonstrate their grasp of the material and correct misconceptions. You can extend your office hours by reaching students more often during the week, so learning is continuous.

Discussion Forum: Threads & Replies

Threads & Replies

Just as it is critical that you plan and structure your course content, you need to provide structure for online discussions as well. Forums allow you to group related discussions and help your students stay on task. You must first create one or more forums before message threads can be started.

Create a Forum

Create A Forum:

Forum settings allow you to use the Discussion Board in different ways. For example, to fully control the forum, the instructor creates all threads, and moderates and grades the posts. For a student-led discussion, allow students to create new threads with the option of posting anonymously. To make forums user-friendly:

  • Create one forum per topic or concept
  • Use concise titles that are easy to scan
  • State your expectations and learning objectives in the description
  • Create forums in advance and make them unavailable until they are needed
  • Allow members to subscribe to forums and threads, so they can be alerted of new posts using email

Add Threads:

Once in a forum, you can start new message threads that begin a conversation. Participants reply to the first starter message and other replies, thereby creating the thread. Depending on your settings, students may or may not be allowed to start threads.

If you selected the Grade Threads forum setting, students cannot create new threads in that forum. If you selected Grade Forum, students can create new threads.

Suggestions for Organizing Discussions

The most common approach for organizing discussions is to enter your discussion topic in the forum title and add details in the forum description.

Forum Titles

  • Enter a subject or discussion question in the forum title and provide instructions or details in the description.
  • Allow students to create threads. In the example above, each thread represents a student's solution to the problem of oil addiction.
  • Users can post to existing threads to comment on given answers, or create new threads to present new solutions.

Another approach is to pose the discussion question or topic in a thread. This can be an efficient way to organize related topics.

Pose a question

  • Enter the general subject in the forum title.
  • Create threads containing the specific issues to be discussed.
  • In this case, consider disallowing thread creation, ensuring that students can only post to existing threads.
Creating Forums
  1. Click "Create Forum".
  2. Enter a "Name". Users will click the forum name to access the forum.
  3. Enter an "optional Description". It will appear below the forum name.
  4. Select "Forum Availability".
  5. Select "Forum Settings".
  6. Click "Submit"

Create Forums

Set Availability Options

* Create forums ahead of time and set the availability to "No" until the discussion is ready to start.

Creating Threads
  1. Access the "Forum".
  2. On the Action Bar, click "Create Thread".
  3. On the Create Thread page, enter a "Subject".
  4. Enter "an optional Message". If desired, format the message using the "Text Editor".
  5. To "attach a file", browse using the Attach a File function below the Message text box.
  6. Select "Grade Thread", if desired and enter Points Possible.
  7. Click "Save Draft" to store a draft of the post or click "Submit".

Creating Threads

* If threads are graded, students cannot start threads in the forum.

Allowing Email Subscriptions

Students may be allowed to either subscribe to an entire forum or to specific threads within a forum. When email subscription is enabled, Blackboard Learn sends out email alerts if there are new posts to read or a reply has been posted. The instructor decides whether to have the subscription email contain the message contents or a link to the message. Subscriptions to forums or threads can be enabled either when the forum is first created or when the forum settings are edited.

  1. Click the forum's Action Link to "access the contextual menu".
  2. Select "Edit".
  3. On the Edit Forum page, select "Subscribe options".
  4. Click "Submit".

Allowing Subscriptions

Subscribe Options:

  • Allow members to subscribe to threads - Restricts subscription to specific threads within the forum.
  • Allow members to subscribe to forum - allows subscription to all threads within the forum.
  • Include body of post in the email - Includes the message text and a link to reply to the message in the email notification.
  • Include link to post - Includes a link to the message in the email notification.
Managing Forums

You can manage Discussion Board forums, as well as the threads within forums. For example, you can edit a forum's name, description, availability, or settings. You can copy an entire forum or only its settings to another location and organize your Discussion Board by moving the most current to the top, or deleting forums that are no longer relevant. When you delete a forum or thread, all content and grades are permanently deleted. For a less permanent solution, you can make a forum unavailable.

Managing Forums

A. Reorder the forums by using the drag-and-drop function to move them into place.

B. Click the forum's Action Link to access the Contextual Menu.

  • Select Edit to change the forum's name, description, availability, and settings.
  • Select Copy to add the forum to another location.
  • Select Delete to permanently delete the forum's content and grades.
Managing Threads

Within a forum, you can manage threads as well. For instance, you can select several threads at once and subscribe to them.

As with forums, you can also delete threads. If you want to restrict access, but not permanently delete a thread, you can hide, lock, or make a thread unavailable. You can delete individual messages when viewing posts.

Managing Threads

A. Select single or multiple threads and click Thread Actions. Select from the Contextual Menu to make the thread appear unread, flag it, publish it, or change it's availability status.

B. Select single or multiple threads and perform the following actions:

  • Collect posts into a printable, sortable, format so that they can be tagged, filtered, or marked as read or unread.
  • Permanently delete the thread's content and grades.
Return to Bb Documentation Index »

Go to top of page

This page developed and maintained by Information Technology. Send comments and suggestions to .

Last Updated: 3/20/13