Forums, Blogs, Wikis and More

Electronic office hours

Faculty may consider setting aside a subset of their office hours for electronic office hours. Faculty can use instant communication systems such as course management discussion boards/chat rooms from Blackboard 8 to be available to students online for an hour each week. This is a useful way for faculty to use their time reaching students directly.

Threaded Discussions

Threaded discussions can be used for a variety of purposes, but are useful in developing an online “community” promoting ongoing discussions throughout a semester for either online or face-to-face students. They can be graded or ungraded and tied to lectures, assignments, or projects. They are also a good way for teachers to promote active learning and for students to get to know each other. Course management software such as Blackboard 8 has a threaded discussion option.


Forums@BU is an interactive web-based bulletin board available to all academic and administrative departments. A department can use forums to communicate with its students, faculty, staff, and others. Within its forum, a department can create an unlimited number of subforums. Departments can link to any forum or subforum directly from their websites. Try out the Practice Forum and if this new service can benefit your department and constituents, Request a Forum.


A blog, short for “weblog,” is a website that displays entries in reverse chronological order like a journal. It can be used to post information from classes sequentially. Or students can keep individual blogs about class readings to facilitate discussion. To use a blog, one must download or buy a software package. There are many software options for blogging; review them here.


Wikis (WikiWiki is Hawaiian for “quick”) are webpages that can be edited by anyone who has access to them, facilitating group projects and information sharing. See What is Wiki for a more complete description of a wiki. Seedwiki is a simple place to start making a wiki. Wikipedia is an example of an extensive wiki.

External Webpages

Although BU webpages are provided for faculty, staff, and students, some faculty may want an external webpage for more space, to post personal information, to maintain the website after leaving BU, or to use resources that are not allowed on the BU network.