FIRST YEARS > FAQs Library > Discussion Boards
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Check it outParticipating in the forums counts a significant part of your grade. Typically, for eachrequired forum, you must submit two new messages/replies. Grading requirements for forum participation are found under the Course Information button in Blackboard.
What are Discussion Boards?
Discussion boards, sometimes called threaded discussion forums, allow students and instructors to share ideas using the Web's hypertext capabilities, i.e. its "hyperlinks." Discussion boards organize messages by subject. Thus, all messages on one topic are grouped together, allowing users to follow connected threads of thought. Boards allow you to read other student responses, post your own threads, or reply to other student messages. 

To create a thread, you post or submit a message, which includes your name, e-mail address, subject/title and message text. Others may read your message by clicking on it and, if desired, post a follow-up reply.
Add a message thread To create a new "train of thought," click "+ Thread." This creates a "parent" or "starter" posting. To respond to an existing message, click on it to read it, selectreply," type in your message, then hit Submit. Replying creates a "child"/ follow-up posting.

Posted messages are underlined. Click them to read them. 

When displayed as a "tree," like a family tree, you see the hierarchical arrangement of follow-up or child replies which appear indented, underneath. As seen below, the parent postings are "To test or not to test" and "Genetic Testing." Starter messages are always bolded.

There are replies to "Genetic Testing," where there are follow-ups to follow-ups to follow-ups i.e. successive "generations" of replies, again all indented. The child replies are bolded, if unread, but are not bolded, if you have already read them. (All replies are unbolded below, indicating all have been read.)  Note that the default subject line for a reply contains "RE:" plus the original title, just like in email messages. You can, however, change the subject line e.g. "False sense of security" - to make thought threads easier to follow.

Good ideaWhen the tree of parent-child replies becomes "too deep" to follow easily, a good idea is to change the subject line or create a new thread, especially when a classmate's posting inspires new questions.

sample discussion forum

Using the forums in Blackboard
There are many management functions provided in the latest version of Blackboard. Many, quite frankly, are not particularly useful for everyday use. For this reason, we highlight below only those most relevant for typical use.

Clicking the Discussion Board button takes you into the list of forums created for the course. As below, the first forum on the list is the link Unit 2. Genetic Testing,  where you see 1 "Unread Posts."

There are two ways to read these postings. You can click the link for 1) the number of unread postings or 2) the named forum itself. 
Ways to read forum postings

1) Reading just the "Unread Posts"
Reading just the unread messages is the "fast-and-dirty" way to use the forums. You read them, then "Mark as Read" (red arrow). If there are multiple ones showing, the follow-up postings should be read bottom-up.

However, there is one drawback: You don't always see the parent messages, so you may not have the original context for new posting. The sure way to see the parent, if needed, is to click the subject-line link (green arrow).  This inserts the parent message, as seen below. Alternatively, you can also show/hide the parent by clicking the button (if present in your current display).
Mark as read

Good ideaA good idea to give context for your readers is to copy-paste a "snippet" from the message to which you are responding.  Below, you see that the responder is specifically referring to " hearing from Deaf and CODAs " 
Note in the next example how the student displayed the instructor's question, highlighted in blue, to provide context for the readers.

2) Reading using the "full" Forum View
In the Forum View, which is displayed when you click the name of the forum, threads can be displayed in one of two contexts: Tree View (the traditional hierarchical parent-child arrangement) or List View

Tree View
In the Tree View, the child messages can be expanded and collapsed by using the plus [+]/minus [-] icon next to each message.  Or, you can expand/collapse them all using the buttons at the end of the listing (red arrow).

In the example below, you see the bolded starter threads and unread follow-ups.  Four postings can be expanded. You see Heather P's response has an attachment (denoted by a paper clip) and two unread (bolded) child replies, one from Patricia E and another from Kathryn W. Note that the one from Patricia E has a plus icon [+], indicating that there are replies to her message. 

tree view

List View
The List View shows only the starter threads. You can read them by clicking on the thread name or the number in the "Unread Posts" column.
List view
Clicking on the thread name expands the display in a tree format, making parent-child context easy to spot. Clicking on unread posts displays all the posts and, as you read them, you "Mark as Read," as described earlier. 

Flagging / Collecting Messages
Combining "flagging" and "collecting" allow you to designate "keeper" messages. Both involve selecting a desired posting by clicking the checkbox beside it. 

As you read messages and come upon one you want to save for later attention, click its checkbox. Once you finish reading the current messages and have checked the ones you want, click the "Flag" icon (green arrow). The flaggings will be saved, appearing there the next time you log on to access that forum.
flagging messages

When you are ready to print out all flagged messages, click the checkboxes for those flagged ones. Then, click the "Collect" icon (red arrow). In the above example, three postings, flagged in an earlier session, have been checked for collecting.

When you click "Collect," Blackboard displays the selected messages in one long list, as below, ready to print.  Note that you can choose some sorting/ordering options before printing.
printing collected items

Bobby WorldWide Approved 508
Alexander Graham Bell Association | UNC-CH Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences

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