It’s been quite some time since Blackboard last made changes to the discussion board forum system available within Blackboard courses. Finally a stride forward has been made, which should make forums significantly easier to read and reply to. The Blackboard team has also thrown in a bit of wholly new functionality to this new Discussions tool, which will soon be replacing the existing Discussion Board tool here at Palomar.
Barring some esoteric problem, we should have the new Discussions tool available on our production Blackboard environment beginning in early June 2013, as part of the maintenance and upgrade time scheduled for June 3-6. However, if you’d like to get a feel for the new tool now, it is live on the BbSandbox environment right now! Feel free to log in and try it out in your sandbox courses.
To answer “what’s new” in this tool, here’s what Blackboard has to say about it:
Discussions have been updated in two primary ways: the “Thread Detail” page has been thoroughly redesigned while maintaining all of its current functionality. We have also added new functionality to support specific pedagogical needs for the use of discussions.
Selected highlights include:
- All Posts on One Page and Instructor Highlighting – all of the posts in a thread are now visible at the same time on one page. Posts now also contain the users’ course role and forum role.
- Inline Replies – when replying to a post, the content editor used to write a response appears on the same page, in the context of the discussion.
- Post First Discussions – This setting allows instructors to require students to post to a discussion before seeing other students’ posts.
Since most of these elements are visual in nature, you also may want to review the following video demonstrating what the new forums look like.
So, a new discussion board forum tool. Something to look forward to, I say.