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Discussion Forums in Blackboard


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A discussion board or forum is a platform where users can post, reply and read messages. Discussions are normally organised into different topics where a conversation can take place and where information and ideas can be shared and questions answered by an expert. A conversation on a specific topic is called a thread.

Discussion forums are widely used in blended (a mixture of face-to-face and online teaching) and fully online modules to facilitate collaboration and connection between teacher and students. Successfully implementing discussion boards in eLearning requires good planning and guidelines. Individual and group participation on discussions can be graded as an assessment. There is also the option of using a rubric for feedback and marking.  Grades and feedback are available for students to view in their My Grades section in Blackboard.

The video below gives an overview of how a combination of discussion forums and animated videos are used for assessment in the School of Pharmacy.


Online discussions can facilitate:

  • Collaboration
  • Exchange of ideas
  • Reflection
  • Individual voice
  • Community building

Online Tutorials

Students need to be supported when working in discussion forums. The five-stage model designed by Professor Gilly Salmon aims to describe how students can be supported through a structured process while they interact with each other and participate in online activities. This model builds on the student's previous experience while supporting their development process.

The interactive guide on the five-stage model below, outlines each stage of the process and how you might implement it into your teaching. The second guide, Tips, offers you twelve tips on how to run successful discussion board actives. The third guide, Weaving and Summarising, offers some further guideline on these two eModerator skills.

1. Five Stage Model 2. Twelve eModerating Tips 3. Weaving & Summarising


Quick Guides

There are four stages to using discussion forums. Click on the links below to view quick guides with the eLearning team's recommended settings for each stage of using a discussion forum with your students. More detailed guides are available in the Additional Resources section.



Additional Resources

Below are additional resources for staff who require further details on the different features and settings of discussion forums in Blackboard.