Tools for Learning Activities: Blackboard Activities – Discussion Boards

The information in this article is correct at the time of writing, please check our TEL Blog for the latest information on Technology at the University of Reading.

Blackboard Discussion Boards are collaborative spaces for discursive exercises, like course questions, peer assessment, or building a sense of community.

Discussion Boards are created and managed by instructors and can be set as graded or formative pieces. Depending on permissions, students can view, create posts, and comment on each other’s posts.

This page is designed as a brief overview of the tool. You can find further support on how to set up, deploy, and grade Discussion Boards on our support site.


  • Free
  • Online (via Blackboard)
  • Blackboard App

Key features:

  • 2 different ways of deployment (Course, Group)
  • Options to subscribe for updates
  • Options for moderation of user posts
  • Multiple Forums available in one course
  • Settings can be used to encourage participation (post to view)
  • Full use of the Blackboard text editor to include a variety of styling and media
  • Graded/Ungraded options for Threads, or Forums as a whole, including individual contributions
  • If graded, new posts will show as Needs Marking after a specified number of entries
  • Comments can be made anonymous (requires trust and boundary setting)


  • Can be used to create an asynchronous community on your course
  • Options for student-instructor interactions (FAQs etc) and student-student interaction
  • Individual contributions can be easily viewed and considered for grading
  • Useful repository for submissions that need grading, but also need to be viewed by course members

Considerations and limitations:

  • Works best with consistent interaction from instructors
  • Can be difficult to engage students if used as a formative assessment tool
  • Requires clear managing of expectations and signposting
  • Lots of settings that require consideration to be used effectively
  • Anonymisation of posts can cause potential behaviour issues
  • Marking by Threads prevents students from posting new Threads, so should be done after posts have been made

Copyright information and liabilities

Page last updated on February 4, 2021 by mattjones

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