Discussions are a good way to encourage students to think critically about your coursework and interact with each others' ideas. You can create discussions around individual course lessons or for your course in general. 

A forum is an area of the discussion board where participants discuss a topic or a group of related topics. Within each forum, students can create multiple threads. A thread includes the initial post and all replies to it. 

How to Create a Discussion Forum

  1. Click on Discussions in the left-hand menu in Blackboard.

  2. Click the Create Forum button.

  3. Type a name and optional instructions or a description. On the main discussion board page, the description appears after the forum name. The forum description appears when students create a thread. Forum descriptions are often used as prompts and are visible where students post.

  4. In the Forum Availability section, select Yes.

  5. Select the Display After and Display Until check boxes to enable the date and time selections. Display restrictions affect when the forum appears.

  6. Select the Forum Settings based on your specific need.
    • Select Grade Discussion Forum and type a point value to evaluate participants on performance throughout a forum.
    • Select Grade Threads to evaluate participants on performance in each thread.
    • If you enable grading for the forum, select the check box for Show participants in needs grading status and select the number of posts from the menu. Applying this setting displays the Needs Grading icon in the Grade Center and places the posts in the queue on the Needs Grading page after students make the specified number of posts. If you select a grading option and do NOT select the check box, the Needs Grading icon doesn't appear in the Grade Center and posts don't appear on the Needs Grading page.
    • Due Date: When you enable grading, you can provide a Due Date. Due dates are used to organize and assign gradable items to grading periods in the Grade Center. Graded posts made after the due date are marked LATE on the Grade Details page in the Grade Center and on the Needs Grading page.
    • Subscribe: You can allow students to subscribe to this forum or threads within the forum. Students who subscribe to a forum or thread receive notifications when activity occurs.

  7. Select Submit.

 can create multiple threads. A thread includes the initial post and all replies to it. 

How to Create a Discussion Thread

Forums are made up of individual discussion threads that can be organized around a particular subject. A thread is a conversation within a forum that includes the initial post and all replies to it. When you access a forum, a list of threads appears. In order to begin a discussion thread within the Forum you created, follow these steps.

  1. Click on Discussions in the left-hand menu in Blackboard. This will take you to a list of Forums that you have created.
  2. Select the Name of the Forum in which you will begin a Discussion Thread.
  3. Click Create Thread.

  4. Add a Subject, a Message (if desired), and a file (if desired).

  5. Click Submit.

How to Grade a Discussion Board

  1. In the forum where you enabled grading, select Grade Discussion Forum.

  2. On the Grade Discussion Forum Users page, select Grade in a student's row.

  3. On the Grade Discussion Forum page, the student's posts for this forum appear. Because you can assign a forum grade based on multiple threads, all messages posted by a student are included for review. In the content frame, evaluate the currently selected student's posts. In the grading sidebar, type a grade. If you associated a rubric for this forum, expand and complete the rubric.

  4. The grading sidebar contains these areas:
    • Forum Statistics: View information about a student's posts, such as Total Posts, Date of Last Post, Average Post Length, and Average Post Position.
    • Select the down-pointing arrow next to the current student's name to view a list and select a student with posts ready to grade. The selected student's posts appear in the content frame. Use the left- and right-pointing arrows to navigate to the previous or next student.
    • Add a grade in the Grade field.
    • In the Feedback text box, you can type feedback for the student. You can embed an audio/video recording of your feedback in the editor as you grade. In the Add Notes section, make notes that appear only to you—the forum manager—and the grader role.

  5. To edit an existing grade, select the Grade box and change the grade.

  6. Select Submit to add the grade, feedback, and grading notes to the Grade Center. The grade appears on the Grade Discussion Forum Users page.

[This article was adapted from Northeastern University ITS.]