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keep calm it's a known issue

After our recent Blackboard system upgrade, instructors began to receive an "Access Denied" error message when attempting to access an unavailable discussion board forum. If an instructor choses the option to make the discussion board unavailable and/or once the display until date/time has past, the instructor will receive an “Access Denied” error message when attempting to access the discussion board.

This is a known issue and will be corrected with the next Blackboard system upgrade. Upgrades to our Blackboard system are normally done between semesters because the system has to be taken down to do the upgrade. Our next upgrade is scheduled to happen in between the spring and summer semesters.

In the meantime, you can use the following workaround if you use discussion boards AND set them up with availability restrictions. The assumption for applying date/time restrictions is that after a certain day and time, the instructor does not want the students to have access to the discussion board. If this your goal, then the workaround to add a link to the discussion board forum and set the availability restrictions on the link should work for you.

Note: Locking discussion threads will let students read posts once the date restriction has past but not be able to submit new posts. The assumption for locking discussion threads is that the discussion board is setup so that students cannot create new threads. The instructor creates the forum and the threads and then students reply to the threads. If you think this may be an option for you, read my blog post for more information on how to lock discussion threads.

Follow these steps to do it.

To add a link to a discussion board forum in a content area:

  1. Turn Edit Mode ON.
  2. Access the content area that you want to add the discussion board forum link to.
  3. On the menu bar, roll your mouse over [Tools] then click on [Discussion Board].
  4. Click on the “Select a Discussion Board Forum” radio button and then select the discussion board forum from the list.
  5. Click [Next].
  6. Enter assignment instructions and select your availability options for the link.
  7. Click [Submit].

Note: The steps above set restrictions on the link to the discussion board forum, not the discussion board forum itself. The discussion board forum that you are linking to should be made available with no date/time restrictions. Therefore, you must remove the availability restrictions from the discussion board forum in order for this workaround to work. The restrictions set in the forum link will determine when students see the link to the discussion board forum. It also determines whether they see the discussion board forum when they access the discussions tool.

Want more information?

Add Discussion Board Forum Link to Content Area (PDF)
Lock Discussion Threads
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center
Try these Blackboard How-To documents
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

by Janice Florent

stick figures shown with a pencil drawing red smiles on their faces

A discussion forum is an excellent tool for student engagement. However you don’t always have to use the question and answer format to engage students in a discussion forum. Chris Laney, professor of history and geography at Berkshire Community College, was having trouble engaging students in discussion forums in his online class and decided to rethink his use of this tool. Professor Laney thinks of the discussion forum as a place to foster interaction between the students through a variety of means rather than just asking them questions. He uses role-playing, debates, and WebQuest to foster interaction between his students.

Role-play

One example of how Professor Laney used role-play is a discussion forum activity that asks students to do some research on a person living in an urban Roman city in the first century CE. Each student creates a character and writes a diary entry or letter recording what he or she did in the course of a day or a series of days. To do this well, students need to research a few things about the professions and classes that would have existed. The students end up talking back and forth in character and at no point does Professor Laney actually ask a question.

Debate

One example of how Professor Laney uses debates is he had students debate whether democracy in the Middle East would result in better or worse relations with nations in the region. It’s a pretty straightforward assignment; however, when having students debate it’s important to set clear ground rules to keep things cordial and to avoid simplistic arguments.

WebQuest

In weeks when a major assignment is due, Professor Laney gives students a less intense discussion forum assignment. Rather than carrying on a discussion over the usual two-week period, he has students do a simple WebQuest and post their findings without having to respond to each other. For example, he may ask students to post an image, video, or music clip from the Romantic Period of art in the 19th century and write a brief description about why it’s considered an example of Romanticism.

Grading

To keep the discussion forum assignments manageable, Professor Laney asks students to post their messages in a single thread. In a class of 25 people there may be 75 messages in a week, but having all the messages in a single thread makes it relatively easy to grade. When a discussion forum activity is over, Professor Laney can click on an individual student’s name and at a glance assign a grade.

For more information, read the Faculty Focus article “Discussion Board Assignments: Alternatives to the Question-and-Answer Format.”

1

If you setup a discussion forum with date and time restrictions, once the scheduled available time has passed the forum becomes unavailable and disappears from the student's view. If you would like students to be able to read posts once the date restriction has past but not be able to submit new posts, you can "lock" the discussion thread to prevent new posts. Students may read the threads but not make any additions or modifications.

image showing how to lock db thread

Follow these steps to do it.

To lock discussion board threads, you should:

  1. Open the Forum in the Discussion Board.
  2. Select the threads you want to lock (you can select all threads by checking the box to the left of “Date” in the header).
  3. Click the [Thread Actions] menu button and choose [Lock] from the list. Verify the status under the discussion board shows "Locked".
  4. Once you have successfully locked the thread, remember to go back and edit the forum to remove the date and time restrictions so that the students can see the threads.

Want more information?

Step-by-step instructions are available [PDF].
Drip-feeding course contents to students.
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center.
Check out help for instructors at help.blackboard.com.
Try these Blackboard How-To documents.
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

If you setup a discussion forum with date and time restrictions, once the scheduled available time has passed the forum becomes unavailable and disappears from the student’s view. If you would like students to be able to read posts once the date restriction has past but not be able to submit new posts, you can “lock” the discussion thread to prevent new posts. Students may read the threads but not make any additions or modifications.

Follow these steps to do it.
In order to lock discussion board threads, you should:

  1. Open the Forum in the Discussion Board.
  2. Select the threads you want to lock (you can select all threads by checking the box to the left of “Date” in the header).
  3. Click the [Thread Actions] menu button and choose [Lock] from the list.
  4. Once you have successfully locked the thread, remember to go back and edit the forum to remove the date and time restrictions so that the students can see the threads.

Want more information?
Step-by-step instructions are available [PDF].
Explore Blackboard's On Demand Learning Center [HTML].
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418