How do I use the discussion boards in Blackboard? (Student)


The Discussion Board for each course can be found under Tools, then Discussion Board.

Note: Tutor may also put a link to a forum into another section of an Blackboard module. A tutor may do this in order to release one forum at a time to students. If you are not sure where to look for the appropriate forum, please check with your tutor.

There are three nested levels to a discussion board:

  • At least one forum , which must be created by the tutor before anyone can post a message to the board.
  • Threads of related posts based on the same subject.
  • Individual posts or messages, which are similar to email messages.

When you click on the Discussion Board link you will see a list of all your discussion forums. If you see nothing, this means that your lecturer has not yet created a forum. Before you can use the discussion board, your tutor must first create at least one forum in the board.

If a forum has been created and a thread started, you will also see a quick list of the total number of posts to the discussion as well as the number of unread posts and the number of people taking part in the discussion. The title and description of a forum will appear as below:

Discussion Forums screenshot showing the forum name and description.

You can see that there are message/ posts in these forums but the person accessing the forum has already read them.

To enter a forum, click the title. You will then see a list of all the threads (the separate strands of the discussion), with details of the number of posts and unread posts in that thread.

To see the individual messages, click on the title of the thread. You will see a set of Message Actions at the top, next to Expand All and Collapse All buttons, which will help you to organise your viewing of the board when there are a lot of messages or posts.

Note the messages running down the page, with the original message at the top. The indenting shows which messages are a reply to which other messages. The messages appear with the author and subject at the top, and the text of the message and Reply button below.

Hover your mouse over the top right hand corner of the message box to view the message date, time and total views.

discussion thread message

To get out of the thread, scroll all the way down and click the OK button.

Adding to the Discussion

Click the Reply button on any message and fill in the form. This is very similar to sending email. You will see the message you are replying to above the form.

You can post messages anonymously if your tutor has enabled this feature. Note that tutors can also remove offensive or off-topic postings. Do remember that Blackboard keeps a record of your message and other members of your module (including the tutor) will be able to read them. Think carefully about what you say in your message, remembering that things like sarcasm and humour can be difficult to convey in text. You should familiarise yourself with the Blackboard Acceptable Use Policy before using Blackboard.

Use the Submit button to submit your post to the discussion board.

If your course has groups, each group can have its own discussion board where you can exchange ideas and post files. These boards are accessed through the Groups.

Rating Messages

Your tutor has the option of allowing students to rate each other's posts in the same way as users can rate films, books, or music on some external websites. If your tutor has enabled this feature for your module, you will see a rating area on the right-hand side of each message:

overall rating icon

Rating of posts is done on a five-star scale. Users are only allowed to rate each post once, and are not allowed to rate their own posts. This is to ensure that the overall rating reflects a balanced and accurate measure of the students' responses.

To rate a post:

  • Open the discussion board and the desired forum and the required thread.
  • Select the desired post.
  • If you are not the author and you have not yet rated the post, hover over Overall Rating and you will see Your Rating with 5 blank stars next to it.
  • Select the number of stars that reflects your rating. After at least one person has rated the post, the Overall Rating will appear as green stars whenever the post is viewed.

Your rating

Subscribing to Messages

Staff and students can be alerted to new messages being added to a thread by clicking the Subscribe option (providing that your tutor has enabled this feature). To make sure you receive alerts for all new messages, click on the Subscribe button to the first message of a thread.

Searching Forums

To search the discussion board as a whole, use the search box at the top of the page on the main Discussion Board page or on the first page of any forum. To search individual forums or threads, select the forum or thread using the dropdown menu next to the word 'In'. Enter the word/s you wish to search for in the Search box. You can also limit your search by date.

Collecting Messages

Messages can be collected together for printing or saving to another location.

  • Select your posts for collecting by either ticking the box next to each individual post or next to a thread.
  • Click the Collect button. Now you can:
    • Click Print to print the messages out.
    • Click Filter to show a filtered subset of messages, viewing all messages sent by an individual user.
Contact for this page:
Information Services, Aberystwyth University, Hugh Owen Library, Penglais, Aberystwyth, SY23 3DZ
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