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The Discussion Board

Blackboard's Discussion Board allows students in the class to communicate with one another asynchronously. This is similar to an email discussion, but unlike email, all contributions to the discussion are collected on a "board" which displays all the messages that have been posted to the board.

Generally your instructor will create a forum on a specific topic. You will access the topic by clicking on the forum, reading the posts, and posting your reply. A series of posts within a forum is called a thread. Depending on how the instructor setup each forum, you may reply to a thread or you may begin a new thread. Please be sure to review the instructions from each instructor prior to posting to the discussion board.

Video: Posting to the Discussion Board

Text-based steps for using the Discussion Board

How to view a Discussion Board forum posts:

  • Click Discussion Board (under Tools)
  • Your instructor should have a discussion forum designated for each topic.
  • To view the posts in a particular forum, click on the forum name.
  • To view a particular thread, click on the thread name (or subject).
  • Click OK when finished.

How to create a new Discussion Board thread:

 

  1. Once in the Discussion Board, click on the forum name for the forum you wish to post to.
  2. At the top, left side of the screen, click on Add New Thread. (Note: If your instructor did not allow add thread privileges in the forum, and the Add New Thread button does not appear, you should follow the steps below to Reply to a Thread in order to post).
  3. A text box will appear for you to type your message.
  4. Remember to add a subject and click Submit to post your message.

How to reply to a thread:


  1. Once in the Discussion Board, click on the forum name for the forum you wish to post to.
  2. Within the forum, click on the thread name (subject) to read the post.
  3. Click the Reply button (at the bottom, right side of the post).
  4. This will open a text box for you to type your reply. The original post is available for you to access while typing your response by scrolling down.
  5. Click Submit to post your reply message.

Writing Tips for Composing Discussion Posts

  • Make sure you read the discussion assignments carefully and follow the specific directions for each particular discussion board forum. Each instructor may use the Discussion Board differently, and for different types of assignments. Some instructors may require a specific number of words.

  • Blackboard is a web-based system which means that if the computer is experiencing any internet connection issues, you may lose any unsaved work. To avoid losing your work, especially for assignments that require a significant amount of writing, you should first write your responses in a word processing program and save the file. This also allows you to check spelling and use a word-counting tool. Then, you can just copy and paste into Blackboard.

  • Keep your posts direct, specific and to the point. In a large class you may have to read up to 20 or more different posts, so do not stray from the topic of the discussion.

  • Choose a title for your post carefully. Try to use titles that specifically relate to your own thesis or argument in your post. Do not just write, "Answer to question #3," etc.

  • Use topic sentences in your paragraphs that summarize what you intend to say in your post. This will give your classmates and your instructor a basic idea of your main thoughts. A topic sentence is essentially a thesis for a paragraph. Therefore, be sure that you defend and support your thesis in your post. You may want to think of it as a "mini" essay: Topic sentence/thesis; body paragraph(s)/support; summary sentence at the end.


  • If you are asked to offer peer responses, be sure to cite at least one point or idea from the other student's post and offer constructive feedback. Do not simply state: "Way to go!" or "I agree." A conversation requires more than those simple words to be effective. Many instructors will have criteria for your peer responses--so be sure to pay attention to your assignment requirements for the discussion boards.


  • You may want to compose your message one day and then edit and proofread it the next day to feel confident that what you've written is appropriate, to the point, and easy to understand before posting it.

  • Be sure to proofread for spelling errors, basic grammar errors, and usage errors. Remember, your only way of communicating in your post is through writing, so your writing must be clear. Do not force your classmates and instructor to have to figure out what you wrote.


  • Be sure to check back in frequently to see if others have responded to your post.


  • Finally, be sure to do your research before you answer important discussion questions. Use the Chabot Library site to check facts, find support in texts for your ideas and to locate important resources for your papers and assignments.

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