The Discussion Board is a tool for sharing thoughts and ideas about class materials asynchronously (not at the same time). The Discussion Board is administered by the faculty member and made up of forums that may appear anywhere in the course but are also all centrally located in the Discussion Board tool.

Discussions in Original Course View

In the Discussion Board, a forum is a general topic for discussion. A thread is subordinate discussion within the forum. 

Students can access the Discussion Board through the Tools menu link in the Course Menu, or a faculty member can create a Discussion Board link to display as part of the Course Menu.

Screenshot highlighting how to access the course discussion board

To create a Discussion Board forum:  From the Course Menu, click Tools, click Discussion Board, then click Create Forum in the adjacent content frame.

Discussions in Ultra Course View

Status: Available

In the Discussion Board, a Discussion is a general topic for discussion. A Response is an original post to the Discussion. A Reply is a post made to comment on a particular Response.

Discussions can be created on the Course Content page, at the top level, within a folder, or within a module. This allows students to access the Discussion along with the other course materials, which helps to ensure they are aware of the activity. Discussions created on the Course Content page also have visible indicators when new Responses are posted, which can prompt students and faculty to visit the Discussion to read others' posts and continue the conversation.

Discussions can also be created on the Discussions tab in the upper right (it looks like two conversation bubbles). All Discussions appear on the Discussions tab, whether they are created here or created on the Course Content page.

Create a Discussion

  1. On the Course Content page, click the plus icon wherever the Discussion should be placed
  2. Click Create in the menu
  3. In the side panel, click Discussion
  4. Provide a title, add text using the plus icon to describe the discussion activity, and edit the settings by clicking the gear icon
  5. Make the Discussion visible or use Release Conditions to determine when it should be visible

Group Discussions

In Ultra Course View, a Discussion can be designated for group participation in the Settings. This creates a single Discussion where students can only see the responses from their group members. If grading is enabled, there is a single column for the Discussion.

Discussion vs. Class Conversation

While you can use Discussions to develop or share ideas, you can also use Class Conversations for quick exchanges on specific content or assessments.

Use Discussions when:

  • the discussion is a graded activity
  • the discussion is based on more than one reading, video, or assessment
  • the discussion is ongoing throughout the course (like a social lounge or Q&A)

Use Class Conversations when:

  • an assessment is complex and students may have questions about it
  • an Assignment is designated for Groups that need a space to collaborate
  • you want to promote casual discussion of the content

Learn More


Quick Guides

See Also...

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I add a file to a Thread in a Discussion Forum?
Files can be added either through the Text Editor, which has an option to attach a file, or by clicking on the "Browse My Computer" button below the Text Editor.  Both options will allow all users to attach a file to a Discussion Board Thread.
How can I set up my discussion board forums so I get an email when students add a new thread or reply to a post?

Discussion board forums include a "subscriptions" feature, which you can enable for both you and your students, to notify you of recent activity. To enable subscriptions on a forum, and to subscribe to it:

  • Go to the "Edit Forum" page:
    • If you're creating the forum, first add its title and description, then click Next
    • If you have already created the forum
      • Click on the Discussions link in the course menu (or the "Discussion Board" link under Course Tools) to pull up the list of discussion board forums in your course
      • Next, place your mouse cursor over the forum you want to enable Subscriptions for, click the drop-down menu icon next to its title, then select Edit
  • On the Edit page, scroll down to the Forum Settings area. You should see a number of options under "Subscribe". From there, you can choose to allow yourself and your students to receive email updates ("subscribe") either to individual threads within a discussion (in the case where you only want to follow particular conversations), or to the forum as a whole (so you receive an email every time a student posts something new, without having to subscribe to every thread a student starts).
  • After you click the radio button next to the option you prefer, click the Submit button. You’ll be taken back to the list of forums.
  • Lastly, click on the forum you just enabled subscriptions for, and, once it's open, click the Subscribe button (located just above the list of threads, right next to the "Create Thread" button)

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