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Understanding Blogs, Journals, Wikis and Discussion Boards


Blackboard Learn offers you options for social communication via blogs, journals, and wikis. It is worth taking time to understand and reflect on:

• Identify similarities and differences between blogs, wikis and journals
• Identify potential uses of blogs, wikis and journals
• Practice creating, participating in and grading blogs, wikis and journals

Table of contents

Matrix for Blogs, Journals, Wikis and Discussion Board




Discussion Board


A collaborative space where all
students can view, contribute
and edit content.

A shared online diary for use in

Personal writing space for self-
reflection and private
communication with the instructor.

Online discussions that are
organized hierarchically with
forums, threads and replies.


Grant writing, creative writing,
group research projects, student-
filled study guide for test
(Instructor provides the outline
and students collaboratively fill it in)

What we did or will do in class,
saves instructor having to answer
individual inquiries, online
discussions about related topics, a
place to hand in evidence of class
participation, most difficult points
to understand of material covered.

Reflect on personal growth
throughout semester, record things
learned on field trip, express
oneself, document clinical
experiences, and most difficult points
to understand of material covered
that are private.

Since we’ve had the discussion
board in Blackboard since the
beginning (WebCT CE and Vista),
this is the tool for online


When a student is updating a
wiki page, the rest of the
students are locked out of it until
it is released.
This is the only BB tool that
allows multiple students to
collaborate within the same text
entry area. The other two tools
store student entries separately
under the students’ names, but
the wiki can be organized by
research topic, work group, etc.

Important Setting:
Individual to all students Entries
and grades are separate to each
student. To view entry, you click on
the student’s name.
Course = All student entries are
listed together when entering the
blog, and all students get that
same grade.
Entries can be saved as drafts
and posted later.
A green “!” designates ungraded
Blogs are less structured
than the Discussion Board,
and they’re chronological. The
format is more open
and conversational in style.

If you set Permit course users to
view journal, the journal will not
be private, making it more like a
blog with commenting turned off.
With “permit course users” turned
off, ask students to post individual,
original responses on a topic. Then
make them public for review by
everyone, preventing students
from repeating remarks in early entries.
Least understood, most understood
material covered:
Use last 5 minutes of class for
summarizing and reflecting in the
blog about the day’s content.
Entries are listed by student name,
and new entries that have not been
viewed by the instructor have a
thumbtack icon by them.

Discussion boards are easily
collapsed, expanded and
Users can Subscribe to a
forum or thread and receive
an email update every time
someone adds to it.
Printing is managed with a
single click.
Students can rate posts.
Can be copied, like in the case
of separate instances for groups.
Feedback from students
favours the other 3 tools
over discussion boards, possibly
because of the 'look and feel'
To print, click to open all entries
/comments and copy to Word.
Show Empty Journals – List of
students with no entries.
Weekly /Monthly Indexing:
Students cannot see indexes,
so if a journal is active for more
than one week, index monthly.

Creating a Communication Tool

  1. Login to Blackboard.
  2. Go to the course area in which you want to add the tool.
  3. Make sure your Edit mode is "ON".
  4. Select Tools dropdown to choose the preferred tool.
  5. Select Link to an existing interactive tool or Create to create a new interactive tool.
  6. Insert a sutable name for the interactive tool.
  7. Complete the tool settings, note that blogs, wikis, journals and discussions are gradable
    (these interactive tools will create a separate column in the Grade Center).
  8. Select Submit to execute.