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Blackboard's Discussion Board, like other online Internet forums or message boards, is a tool that allows you to participate in asynchronous discussions on a variety of topics, usually chosen by your instructor. What happens is your instructor usually initiates the conversation. You then chime in along with the other students, and then your instructor jumps in from time to time to offer feedback and to guide the conversation. So how do you access your course's Discussion Board? Well, your instructor may actually add a link to the Discussion Board on the Course menu itself.
So let me actually get into my Educational Technology course. Hey look! There actually is a link to the Discussions there. If you don't see a link to the Discussion Board on the Course menu, click on Tools and then scroll down. There should be a link to the Discussion Board within the Tool menu that takes you to the same place. If both of those don't work, you're going to need to browse through your course and click on either List View or Folder View and try to find the Discussion Board link there. Your instructor can choose to put a link to the Discussion Board anywhere within the course.
Once you get into the Discussion Board, I want to give you a quick tour of what you're going to see. You're going to see Forums and those are rooms in which a particular conversation takes place. And if you click on the forum name or actually just click the button with the two downward facing chevrons to the right and click Open, both do the same thing, it opens up the particular discussion forum. Within that room you're going to see threads. It's an individual post and then any replies to that particular post.
Now this table allows you to sort by date, alphabetically by thread name or I can also sort by Author, Status. I can see the number of Unread Posts. It's actually a really dangerous number. I'll show you why in a minute. Right now, I'm in something called List View. List View shows me a list of all the different threads, the conversations that are going on here. If I click on Tree View, Tree View actually shows me the list but then puts a little plus sign to the left of it, and I can now expand the conversation, and I can see that Paul Stuart started the conversation and Olivia Anderson has replied to this conversation.
The view you choose is up to you. Tree View or List View. It's in the top right-hand corner. For me this is kind of easier to understand, but it's up to you. Once I get into a thread-- and let me do that here. I'm going to click on my Week 1 thread. It opens up a new window, and this actually shows me three parts. The first part up here is called the Action Bar. These are some things that I can do. I can say that this has been read or unread. I can collect them. Let's scroll down. The next one is actually going to show me the message list.
This is a first message, this is the second message, and I can see that this is a reply to the first message because it's indented. Down beneath that is the message window itself. it's the current post, and I have the ability here to click on Reply and we'll talk about that in the next movie. I can quote or I can set a flag saying this is important. I want to come back to it. To the right of the subject line, is this little sort of greater than sign and that allows me to move to the next message within this particular post.
So I can actually go back and forward in this. Now let me give you some tips. When you're dealing with a threads and you get into the forum, my recommendation is sort the threads by date, just so you don't get lost. So you want the oldest ones first and newest ones last. That's just easier to follow and easier to understand. The other thing I want to show you is that you can at any point in time take a particular thread.
For example, we've been now into the Week 1 thread, we've read everything here, but we could if we wanted to go here and say no, I want to mark these as Unread so that when I come back, they are available to me again, just so I see them all the time. Now let me get back to the Discussion Board, because I want to show you something here. I have the ability to click on Unread Posts and what that's going to do is it's going to take me back into the Forum and only show me the threads that I haven't read so far.
You're going to think that's going to be helpful, but those threads are going to be removed from context. You're not going to see what came before it or after it. you're only going to see what's new. And it ends up becoming really confusing. My recommendation is don't click on Unread Posts. Click on the name of the forum, get into the forum, and then just start reading the threads one after the other. Anything that's in bold is something that you haven't read before. Once you've read it, it goes from bold to regular text.
In our next movie, we're going to show you how to post reply and even add an attachment to a Discussion Board post.
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