Forums are used to organize discussions and may be added or modified by accessing the appropriate Discussion Board page. While you are the only one who can create a new forum, you can enable other users in your course to manage a forum once it is created. Forums have many different settings that affect how users interact with the forums. You can require users to submit an original post before they can read the threads created by others, and forum postings can be graded if desired. When a forum is set to be graded, a column in the grade center is automatically created.
To add a discussion forum to a Blackboard course:
- Click the Discussion Board button on the course menu.
- Click the Create Forum button.
- Set the forum options:
- Enter the name of the forum.
- Enter a description of the forum in the text box, if desired. This is a good place to include any questions or topics you would like your students to address in their postings, as well as any policies and requirements for participation.
- The forum availability is set to Yes by default. Change this to No to make the forum invisible to students.
- Set the Display After and Display Until options, as needed. If you would like the forum to remain open throughout the semester, leave the checkboxes empty.
- Viewing Threads/Replies: The Standard View allows students to read postings made by other students at any time. To require students to create their own thread before they are able to read the work of others in class, select the Participants must create a thread in order to view other threads in this forum option. Turning this setting on may help to encourage originality and critical thinking in student postings.
- Grade: Discussion posts can be graded in two different ways: students can have their overall participation in a forum graded or they can be graded on a thread-by-thread basis. Enabling grading will cause an entry for the forum or thread to be created in the grade book. Grading for students happens directly in the discussion board. If threads are graded, members will not be allowed to create new threads.
- Set the number of posts a user must make before a “needs grading” status symbol appears in the grade center. Using this option, if you require students to submit an original post and 3 response posts, you can set the grade center to notify you after every 4 posts by each user.
- Subscribe: When a user subscribes to a thread or forum, an email will be sent whenever a new post or reply has been made in that thread or forum. Once a subscription option has been set selected, users can choose to include a link to the post in the email notification or to include the body of the post in the email. Including the body in the post is more helpful, as it allows users to quickly identify the relevance or urgency of a post without having to log in to Blackboard first.
- Allow Anonymous Posts: This setting allows users to hide their identity when posting on the discussion board. If this feature is enabled, the forum cannot be graded.
- Allow Author to Delete Own Posts: Allows users to remove their own posts from the discussion board, but not the posts of others. This can cause problems if users have already started to respond to a post that is removed, and is generally discouraged. Deleted posts cannot be recovered.
- Allow Author to Edit Own Published Posts: Allows users to make changes to, cut, or build on their own previously published posts.
- Allow Members to Create New Threads: Threads are the next lower level of hierarchy in a discussion board below the forum. A forum can have multiple threads by default. This setting allows users to create their own threads. If disabled, students are only allowed to reply to threads that are created by the instructor.
- Allow File Attachments: Allows students to share files with other users on the discussion board, such as a Powerpoint presentation, an image file, or a rough draft of an essay for peer review.
- Allow Users to Reply with Quote: Allows course participants to automatically include the text of the original post in their responses, providing improved context for their response in a large discussion thread.
- Allow Post Tagging: Tagging is a way to add metadata to posts to make them easier to retrieve in searches. For example, students could search a forum purely for posts made that have been tagged as being related to “post-colonialism” and filter the conversation for relevant information.
- Allow Members to Rate Posts: Course participants can rate the quality of posts using a five star system.
- After you have made your selections, click Submit. The forum will be created and appear at the bottom of the discussion board page.
- To update a forum, click on the Options menu button to the right of the forum title and choose Edit on the available options.
- Open - To access the forum and review activity.
- Edit - To modify the forum title, description, and options.
- Manage - To change a user’s role in the forum. Available options include manager, moderator, grader, participant, reader, and blocked.
- Copy - To copy the forum to another location in your course, such as to a group discussion board area.
- Delete - To remove the forum from your course.