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Discussion Board


Overview: The Discussion Board

NOTE:  Your instructor controls which tools are available.  If this tool is not available, your instructor may have disabled it.

The discussion board is a tool for sharing thoughts and ideas about class materials.  Course members can replicate the robust discussions that take place in the traditional classroom.  An advantage of using the discussion board is its asynchronous nature.  Participants do not need to be in the same location or time zone, and can take time to consider their responses carefully.

You can use the discussion board to:

How to Use Blackboard Discussions (4:02)

Double-click the video to enlarge the viewing area.

How to Access the Discussion Board

  1. On the course menu, click Discussions.
    On the course menu, click Tools and select Discussion Board.
  2. The main Discussion Board page appears with a list of available discussion forums.  A forum is an area where users discuss a topic or a group of related topics.

The Main Discussion Board Page


Click a forum title to view the messages.  Forums containing unread posts appear in bold.

  1. View data on the number of posts and participants.
  2. Click the number in the Unread Posts column for one-click access to a forum’s unread messages.

Course groups [15] can have their own discussion boards.  Group discussion boards are available only to users who are members of the group.  If a group discussion board is available, access it from the groups link on the course menu or in the My Groups area.

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The Forum Page

Within each forum, users can create multiple threads.  A thread includes the initial post and any replies to it.  When creating a forum, your instructor has the option of allowing or not allowing you to start threads.


  1. When possible, use the orientation bar to navigate to a previous page.  Do not use the browser navigation controls because page load errors may occur.
  2. Use the action bar functions to perform various actions, such as creating threads, accessing grading information, collecting threads, and searching content.
  3. Check neighboring box to select one or more threads.  To check all threads, select check box in the header row.
  4. Click a thread title to read the posts.  Titles containing unread posts appear in bold type.
  5. Determine your view.  You can view a forum with threads appearing in a list.
    In a tree view with all posts listed below each thread title.

If your instructor enabled subscribing, you can be alerted by email when new posts are made.  Your instructor chooses whether the alerts are for posts made at the forum or thread level.

When the forum email subscription feature is enabled, you will see Subscribe on the action bar.  Once you click it, you will receive emails when new posts are made to the forum.


When the thread email subscription feature is enabled, select one or more thread check boxes and select Subscribe from the Thread Actions drop-down list.  Once you select Subscribe, you will receive emails when new posts are made to the selected threads.


List View and Tree View

After you click a forum title, a page loads displaying all forum threads.  You can view the page in either List View or Tree View.  This choice remains in effect until you change it and you may change it at any time.  On the forum page, in the upper-right corner, toggle between the two views.


List View

Click List View to present the threads in a table format.  Threads containing any unread posts appear in bold type.


  1. From the action bar, you can create threads, collect, or search posts.  If your instructor has allowed you to receive email alerts to new posts in the forum, you will also see Subscribe.
  2. To sort a column, click the column heading or caret.
  3. Select the check box next to a thread and make a selection from the Thread Actions drop-down list.  You can select multiple threads or select the check box in the header to select all threads.  The actions include:
    • Marking threads read or unread.
    • Setting or clearing flags.  Flags mark threads for later attention.
    • Subscribing or unsubscribing for email alerts to new posts made to threads, if enabled.

Tree View

Click Tree View to show the thread starter messages and their replies.  From the action bar, you can create threads or collect posts.


You can expand and collapse threads by using the plus and minus icons next to the titles.  If a thread starter message contains unread posts, the thread starter title appears in bold type.  On the action bar, use the Collapse All and Expand All options to hide or view all posts included in all threads.

Select a thread and make a selection from the Message Actions drop-down list on the action bar.  You can select multiple threads or select the check box in the header to select all threads.  Actions include marking threads read or unread and setting or clearing flags.  Flags mark threads for later attention.

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The Thread Page

When you view the thread page, all posts and the forum description appear on one page.  Forum descriptions are often used as prompts for discussion, so they are now visible where you are posting.  Large images of course members help you easily identify authors.

To help make replying easy, the content editor appears immediately below the message you are replying to.  You are not taken to a new page to post a reply, allowing you to refer to any post on the page.


  1. Use Expand All and Collapse All to manage the visibility of posts on the page.
  2. Functions appear when you point to the page.  Move your mouse pointer anywhere on the page and action bar functions appear at the top, such as Search and Refresh.
  3. Click the number of unread posts to view a page containing only the unread posts in a thread.
  4. When viewing threads, a badge appears next to a forum manager or moderator’s name.  Point to the badge to see the user’s course role and forum role.
  5. The dates for posts appear as relative dates such as “7 days ago.”  When you point to the relative date, you can view the absolute date of creation or editing and the number of views.
  6. New Mark as Read indicator: Blue icon = unread.  White icon = read.  Posts are marked as read as you scroll down the page, after a slight delay.  Only expanded posts that you view onscreen are marked as read.  Posts are not automatically marked read by quickly scrolling down the page.  Click the icon to manually change the status of a message.  You can also flag posts you want to review again later or indicate as important.
  7. When you point to a post, Reply, Quote, Expand/Collapse, and other available functions appear.  Click Collapse to fold up a post.  This increases the vertical screen space available for viewing posts.
  8. If your instructor enabled the rate posts feature in a forum’s settings, Overall Rating shows the average rating for a post.  When you point to the rating area, it changes to show Your Rating.

How to Create Threads in a Forum

Forum settings control who can post, and what other types of actions you can take, such as editing your own threads, posting anonymously, or rating posts.  Depending on which forum settings your instructor has selected, you may be allowed to create a new thread.

  1. Access a discussion forum and click Create Thread on the action bar.
  2. On the Create Thread page, you can view the forum description to refer as you write your response.  Type a Subject and Message.  You can use the content editor functions to format the text and add files, images, web links, multimedia, and mashups.
  3. Alternatively, in the Attachments section, attach a file from your computer by clicking Browse My Computer.
  4. Click Save Draft to store a draft of the post or click Submit to publish your reply.

If your instructor has associated a rubric with the discussion forum or thread and made it available to students, you can view grading criteria before beginning work.  Click Grading Information to access the forum or thread’s Grade page.  Click View Rubric.

Save a Post as a Draft to Submit Later

The Save Draft function is available if you need to return to your post at a later time.  This function saves your comments and files on the page.

To access your post later, return to the forum page and point to Display to access the drop-down list.  Select Drafts Only to view the saved post.  While viewing your post, point to it to view the functions for Edit and Delete.  When you click Edit, the content editor opens.

You can make edits, add or delete files, and use the functions in the content editor.  Click Submit to publish the post.

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How to Reply to Discussion Posts

In the discussion board, threads grow as users respond to the initial and subsequent posts.  Replies build on one another to construct a conversation.  As the number of posts grows, you can rate, filter, sort, and collect posts.

You can reply to published threads, but cannot reply to locked or hidden threads.

  1. Access a forum and select a thread.
  2. On the thread page, you can view the text of the post and information, such as the author and posted date.  All replies appear on the same page with the parent post.
  3. For the first post, click Reply.  Point to the post to see Quote and Email Author.  The Quote function includes the post’s text as part of your reply.  For other posts on the page, point to the message and Reply and the other functions appear.


    If you want to view only the unread posts in the thread, click the unread link on the action bar.  The unread posts appear on one page.

  4. The page expands below the post you are responding to, allowing you to view the post and access the content editor.
  5. If needed, edit the Subject.  Provide your reply in the Message box.  Optionally, use the content editor functions to format the text and include files, images, web links, multimedia, and mashups.  Attachments you upload using the content editor can be launched in a new window and can include alternate text to describe the attachment.  Files uploaded by students are not saved to the course repository.


  6. Alternatively, following the Message box, attach a file from your computer by clicking Browse My Computer.
  7. Click Save Draft to store a draft of the post or click Submit to publish your reply.

On the thread page, your reply appears at the end of the list.  If you attached a file, a paper clip icon appears next to the post’s title.  If you used the Insert/Edit Image function, the image appears with the text you provided.

Delete a Post

Allowing students to delete or edit their posts is an option the instructor controls.  If you do not have a delete or edit button somewhere near to the Submit button, it is because they have not enabled that option.  You will need to check with your instructor to see if you can have them either delete the post or change the settings to allow students to do that on their own.

How to Rate Discussion Posts

If allowed by your instructor, you can rate posts.  Rating posts allows users to focus on messages considered especially informative or useful by others.  Students start threads and include their work in their initial posts.  Other users review the work, assign a rating to the initial post, and include comments in a response. Instructors can also rate posts.

  1. Access a forum and select a thread.
  2. On the thread’s page, when you point to a thread’s rating area, it changes to show Your Rating.
  3. Select one to five stars.  You can add and delete stars at any time.
  4. Your rating is included in the Overall Rating—the combined rating of all users.