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Participating in the forums counts as a significant part of your grade.Typically, for each required forum, you must submit two posting, either as replies or new messages (or "threads"). Grading requirements for forum participation are found under the Course Info link in Sakai. (See Sakai's short course for a full description of the course links.)
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, subject/title and message text. Others may read your message by clicking on it and, if desired, post a follow-up reply.

To create a new "train of thought," click Post New 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 the Post Message button. 

Using the forums in Blackboard
1) Reading and posting
Let's see an example, taken from your second course, Audiology Interpretation and Hearing Technologies, which has 6 units/modules:

  • Unit 1. Development of the Hearing Mechanism
  • Unit 2. When Something Goes Wrong: Hearing Loss in Children & Its Causes
  • Unit 3. Newborn Hearing Screening & Follow Up
  • Unit 4. Audiological Assessment
  • Unit 5. Amplification Options
  • Unit 6. Cochlear Implants
Each of these unit titles serves as an "organizational" structure, under which are all the individual forums for that particular unit. All units have at least two forums for discussion. For example, "Unit 2. When Something Goes Wrong: Hearing Loss in Children & Its Causes" has 3 forum topics.

When you click one of the forum links, in this case "Unit 2. Genetic Testing," you see the postings there.

forum structure in Sakai
In the above example, the forum "Unit 2. Genetic Testing" shows 2 threads, "To test or not to test" (by Melissa L) and "Genetic testings" (by Debbie L).  Below you see what appears when you click the thread "Genetic testings."

depth of replies

There are 3 replies/follow-ups to Debbie's original "parent thread," all indented. In fact, you see follow-ups to follow-ups to follow-ups i.e. successive "generations" of replies, again all indented. Note that the default subject line for a reply contains "Re:" plus the original title, just as in email messages. You can, however, change the subject line to make thought threads easier to follow, as seen in the green e.g. "False sense of security."

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.

2) "Jumping around" the forum structure
An easy way to navigate the forum page is to click the "crumb trail" at the top of the page (shown above at the red arrow). 
crumb trail
Clicking ...
  1. Forums/ = gets you to top, where all the forums of the course are listed
  2. Unit 2. When Something Goes Wrong: Hearing Loss in Children & Its Causes/ = the header/organizational "structure," containing the all forum topics for that unit.
  3. Unit 2. Genetic Testing/ = a partuclar forum topic, which currently has 2 threads by Melissa and Debbie
  4. Genetic testings = the clicked thread/posting by Debbie; the "you are here" 
The reset button - reset button - can also come in handy to pop back to the top level of  Forums.  It appears at the top right of each section's frame. You can also "back out" using the browser's back button. (Note: The reset button is available with all the Sakai tools.)

3) Adding attachments
Adding attachments in Sakai follows procedurally what you do in typical email utilities. You click the attachment button, browse to locate your file, then submit. In Sakai, you can attachment multiple files. Need to review? Click here.

4) Printing the forum postings
Printing at the top level (red arrow) gets you all the postings. Printing within a forum (green arrow) gets you a single posting, i.e. one at a time. So, when it comes to forum-printing, it is all or nothing! (Or, more specifically, all postings or one posting at a time!) 

In the example below, there happens to be only one posting in Communicating Over the Miles. Printing at the top level gets you all the postings there. However, once you click on a particular posting, you can print singly, i.e. just that one out.
printing sakai forums

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

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