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Building a sense of community among students is crucial for a successful online experience. The Discussion Board is an important tool for interpersonal interaction and can replicate the discussions that take place in the traditional classroom. Discussions can serve a range of purposes, such as:

  • an online meeting place for social interaction among peers
  • an additional medium for collaboration and the exchange of ideas
  • a medium to pose questions about homework assignments, readings, and study area content
  • a way to demonstrate the understanding or application of learning material
  • a record of discussion which can be reviewed at a later point
  • a graded activity that demonstrates understanding or application of learning material.

Forums and threads


Once you have determined your precise needs, you can create forums and threads to organise discussions into units or topics relevant to your study area. A forum is a topic for discussion, and a thread is a specific discussion about that topic. 


The main Discussion Board page displays a list of forums. Within each forum, there can be multiple threads. In the example below, the forum has two threads currently.




 A thread includes the initial post and any replies to it. Below is the thread 'Submitting with Turnitin' from the previous example, and you can see there are two posts within this thread.



How do discussion forums and threads work?

Just as it is critical to plan and structure your study area content, you should also provide structure for online discussions. Forums allow you to group related discussions and help your students stay on task. You first need to create one or more forums before message threads can be started.
The main Discussion Board page displays a list of forums. A forum is an area where a topic or a group of related topics are discussed. Within each forum, there can be multiple threads.  A thread includes the initial post and any replies to it.


The Discussion Board tool allows for unsynchronised interactions occurring over extended periods of time. This allows for more flexibility as well as reflective communication. There is a lag time between the initial message or entry and the answer or feedback.

Unsynchronised communication offers convenience and flexibility to all participants. Some benefits include:
  • participants do not need to be in the same location or time zone
  • participants can carefully consider and reflect on the initial message before responding and, hopefully, more thoughtful conversations can occur
  • different learning styles are accommodated, for example, students who are shy about speaking in class may feel more comfortable responding to discussion threads
  • you can subscribe to a forum or a thread and receive an email when new posts have been made.

Setting up and using Discussion Boards

More information explaining how to set up a Discussion Board is available: Using the Discussion Board tool (staff guide)
Guidance you could use for students explaining how they should interact with a studentcentral Discussion Board is available: Using a Discussion Board tool (student guide).
Discussion Boards work very well when using the Bb Student app on a mobile device. To read more about how you use Discussion Boards and the app, click here.