Saturday, July 6, 2013

Discussion Boards Within Blackboard

Last Monday - Wednesday (July 1- July 3) the Blackboard (Bb) system was slow due to server issues. This issue was corrected on Wednesday night. However, we continued to receive a few request for help from students on discussion boards. All but one of these request for help were due to not understanding the way the new discussion board building block works. Discussion have been updated in two ways: the thread detail page has been redesigned but still maintains current functionality and instructors can now require students first post to a forum before they can view other posts. 

Instead of loading all the discussion post upon opening a discussion forum, only the first few load initially. Over the next few minutes more post will be displayed, until a post is loaded the user will see a message that says "post is loading....". Given time the post will load! Secondly, if a user tries to enter a post during this loading process and they have not saved their post before their screen is refreshed, the unsaved post text will be lost. This is because the student starts typing before the page is done completely loading. The discussion board also shows the photo and basic Bb profile information. So make sure you have your Bb profile complete, we have found if users have not updated their profile their post takes longer to load.

We understand your frustration with the new way that discussion boards function and that they are now more time consuming to use. We have submitted an enhancement request and support ticket with Blackboard, requesting them to improve performance and to prevent data loss during refresh. However, until Bb makes a change to the discussion board area, users must wait until all the post are loaded BEFORE typing a new post. Faculty can help students by using smaller discussion boards to improve load speeds. For example, do not use one discussion forum for a weekly discussion requirement. Instead Faculty should create a discussion forum for each week. Users can also improve things by just loading the unread post, instead of the entire discussion forum when they are very large. Sometimes if a user slowly scrolls down the page this will load the post faster. 

How to Access the Discussion Board

  1. On the course menu, click Discussions. -OR-
    On the course menu, click Tools and select Discussion Board.
  2. The main Discussion Board page appears with a list of available discussion forums. A forum is an area where users discuss a topic or a group of related topics.

The Main Discussion Board Page

Image illustrating associated text
  1. Click a forum title to view the messages. Forums containing unread posts appear in bold.
  2. View data on the number of posts and participants.
  3. Click the number in the Unread Posts column for one-click access to a forum’s unread messages.
Course groups can have their own discussion boards. Group discussion boards are available only to users who are members of the group. If a group discussion board is available, access it from the groups link on the course menu or in the My Groups area.

video Interacting with the Discussion Board  (Flash movie | 4m 05s)

We will notify you when and if any changes occur with the Bb discussion board area. If none of this information helps, please email the class id and discussion forum title from your SU email.

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