Discussion Boards

What is a discussion board?

  • An online tool to help encourage students to discuss, reflect, & collaborate on a topic of interest.
  • The Discussion Board enables threaded, asynchronous discussions.
  • Students post messages in response to writing prompts, or respond to other students’ messages.

Why Use a Discussion Board?

  • provides an alternative source of interaction with the content for students who may not participate in class
  • promotes the opportunity for students & instructor to interact outside of the classroom setting
  • improved discussion aids the learning process
  • creates an opportunity to practice writing skills
  • improves critical thinking skills
  • enables anywhere or anytime discussion–not limited by the classroom

For more information about the Discussion Board, click here.

Discussion Board Basics

  • Instructors can set up multiple forums around different topics and embed them in appropriate content areas or lessons.
  • Instructors can determine whether students can modify, delete, post anonymously, and/or include attachments.
  • Forums can be sorted/viewed by thread, author, date, or subject and are allows you to search.
  • Instructors can assign students to “moderate” discussions.


Basic steps to create a Discussion Board

  1. Click the “Edit Mode On” button in the top right hand corner of the site.
    Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 4.10.50 PM
  2. Under the Control Panel, click “Course/OrganizationTools”.
    Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 4.11.02 PM
  3. Under Course/Organization Tools, select “Discussion Board”.  You should see the name of your course/org.  Click the title.
    Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 4.11.20 PM
  4. In the upper left corner, click the “Create Forum” button.   The instructor must create a forum in order for participants to use a discussion board.
    Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 4.11.58 PM
  5. Create the Forum:   a.)  give it a name and description;   b.) determine settings (see below for suggestions)
    Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 5.08.26 PM
  6. Click submit and the discussion board will be created.    It should appear in the list of forums.  Clicking the down arrows to the right of the forum name will give you a list of options that you can perform.
    Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 5.10.21 PM
  7. Once you create the forum for the discussion board, you will need to make sure that students have access to it.  You can create a tool link in the Main Menu for the Discussion Board, or you can link to a particular discussion board in a content area.  You can access the Discussion Board from the Tools link on the Course Menu and from the Control Panel. You may also add a customized link to the Course Menu and to a course area. When you provide a link to the Discussion Board in a course area, students can access the tool alongside other course content.

To watch a video on creating a discussion board forum click here.

To watch a video on creating a discussion board thread click here.


Suggestions for Forum Settings in the Discussion Board

The following list describes the settings you can select for various types of forum requirements.

  • If you want to create effective social forums, select the Allow Anonymous Posts and No Grading in Forum options. Allowing students to post anonymously is important at the beginning of a course when they are still becoming comfortable with discussions. If quality is a concern, assign a Moderator to review each post before it is made public. To learn about moderating the Discussion Board, see How to Control Discussion Board Content (Moderating).
  • If you want to create forums where students have control of the discussion, allow them to edit, delete, and rate posts. Also, you can allow students to create new threads and direct the discussion.
  • If you want to have a tightly controlled forum, select the Force Moderation of Posts and Grade Forum or Grade Threads options. To ensure students focus on the existing threads, do not allow the creation of new threads.
  • When you want your students to focus on the existing threads, do not select Allow Members to Create New Threads.
  • If you allow authors to edit their published posts, consider locking the thread. Locked posts cannot be changed after they are graded.
  • Some settings cannot be selected in combination. For example, if you are grading forums or threads, anonymous posts are not allowed. Also, if thread grading is enabled, members cannot create new threads.

Suggested Settings:

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 5.08.40 PM

To watch a video on changing discussion board forum settings click here.



I saved my reply instead of submitting it in a discussion board, but now neither my instructor nor I can find it.  Is it gone or can I retrieve it?

  • As long as you saved it, it has not disappeared.  You will need to get back into the discussion board where you saved the thread/reply.  At the top you should see a “Display” option which is probably set to “Published” by default.  You will need to click the down arrow and select “Show All” from the list and be sure to click the “GO” button next to it.  Your posting should appear with (draft) next to the title of the thread.  Simply click on the thread to open it up, and then you can submit it when you are ready.

My students say they have posted threads in a discussion board, but neither of us can see it?  What is happening?

  • Check the settings for the discussion board.  If this is happening, the “force moderation of posts” option in the parameters for the discussion board has been selected.  When an instructor selects this option, it means that the posts will not appear to the class until they are “released” by a moderator.  By default the instructor is the moderator, but anyone within the course can be designated as moderator.  To find the posts, you’ll need to go into the discussion board.  Once there, you should see a button in the action bar called “moderate forum” just above the search/date area.  If you click on this you can than see the various posts from students.  Click the moderate button on the right and you can either publish it or return it to the student with comments.  Click submit, and it will be moderated appropriately.  You should also be able to change the option in the original discussion board settings by clicking “modify” and then unchecking the option.

I’m having trouble opening an attachment in a discussion board. Why is this occurring?

  • Look at the actual file name.  If it contains any strange characters such as extra periods or number signs, than the computer may not recognize what type of file it is.
  • Recommendation 1: Do not use periods within the name of a file to separate words.  Use underscores instead.  Extra periods cause problems because the computer thinks that the info after the first period is the type of file, and it then doesn’t understand how to view or use it.
  • Recommendation 2: Do not use strange characters in the file names.  When students use strange characters in the file name, the computer becomes confused and may have trouble interpreting the file type .  NEVER use any strange characters, such as #, *, &, ?, >, ” when creating the name of a file.
  • FIX: Be sure the student has copy/pasted their reply into a word document, and then remove the post.  The student will need to create a new reply and paste their response.  The student should also rename their file and attach the renamed file to the thread.  This should correct the problem.
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