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Create and Manage Discussion Boards

  • Blackboard

Last modified: January 3, 2024

The Blackboard Discussion Board has two parts: forums and threads. There is more than one correct way to use these components based on how you've arranged your course materials.

You are viewing instructions for Original view in Blackboard (the current UAS default).

If you have elected to use Ultra, go to 

Ultra course view on discussion boards instead.

Understanding the Blackboard Discussion Board

Think of a forum as a folder. It is a container for the big idea which you wish to discuss. If you plan to do a weekly discussion, you might name the forum according to the week. Alternatively, it might make more sense in your course for the forum to be named after a concept that will be discussed. There is more than one correct way to set up your discussion board, so consider what works best for how you've arranged your course. 

Once you've created a forum, you or your students will be able to create threads inside the forum. Threads are individual conversations within the forum. A thread consists of an original post to the forum and all replies to it.

Two Ways to Set up Standard Discussion Boards

In the first figure below, the  forum title gives the topic and instructional week; then the instructor poses a question to begin the thread and students post answers which other students then respond to. The second figure depicts a forum in which the question is asked in the forum title and students post answers that start threads of conversation.

a diagram showing the relationship between forums and threads

a diagram showing the relationship between forums and threads with multiple threads

Create a Forum

Once you know how you want to set up your discussion board, the next step is to create a forum. Use the Discussions link in the navigation page to reach the Discussion Board page. On this page click "Create Forum" and fill out the options:

  • Give the forum a name (required)
  • Set the times and dates that govern the forum's availability
  • Determine whether you want students to post before they can read other posts
  • Determine whether the discussion board will be for a grade and whether you want to grade the entire forum or grade the threads. Note: choosing to grade the forum or a thread will create a Grade Center column, and if you choose to grade threads, students will not be allowed to create threads.
  • There are several options under "Create and Edit" that you may wish to change based on your set up. You can allow anonymous posts, deletion or editing of posts by the author, student-created threads, file attachments, etc. If you are only having students reply to your post, you will want to turn off "Allow Members to Create New Threads". 

Click Submit and your forum is ready to go.

Create a Thread

Click on your forum and you'll see "Create Thread" on the upper left side of the page. Give your thread a subject (required). Then use the box to add text, media, files, hyperlinks, etc. to your thread post. If you selected the option to grade threads, you will also need to enter a number of possible points. This post will begin the thread. To respond to your post, students will click on the original thread post and click "Reply" to open a page on which they can type their reply. They can also add text, media, files, hyperlinks, etc. as part of their reply which means you can have them respond in multiple formats. To access files and media to add to a post, you can click on the (+) or "Browse Computer". 

arrows point to the icons that allow for adding media to a discussion post

Grading Discussions

Whether you chose "Grade Forum" or "Grade Thread", the procedure is the same. The only difference is where you find the information that you need to grade. 

Grade a Forum

If you are grading a forum, click on the forum name to go into the forum and see the threads. Above the threads, you'll see "Grade Discussion Forum". This will show you the list of student participants. To the far right of their names, you will see a button that says "grade". When you click on "grade", it shows you all of the posts by that student and has a space for feedback, rubric, and grade. The grade will automatically be applied to the Grade Center.

Grade a Thread

If you are grading a thread, open the forum by clicking on it's name. You will see the threads listed. To the far right of the row, you will see "Grade Thread". When you click on this link, it lists the students who participated in the thread. From here, it's just like grading a forum. You click grade on the row of the student you want to grade and it opens the grading screen with all of that student's posts and you can give feedback and assign grades that are automatically added to the Grade Center.