Accessing Unavailable Discussion Forums

Cumulative Update 2 for Blackboard Learn Q4 2015, installed on 7 Jan 2017, introduces an issue with the Discussion tool. This issue does not impact students. Users with the forum role of “Manager” (Instructors and Teaching Assistants by default) or “Builder” (Course Builders by default) receive an ‘Access denied’ error when attempting to access Discussion forums that are made unavailable to students. The Discussion grading interface is still accessible, however, either through Grade Center/ Needs Grading or through the correct column in the Full Grade Center/ Grade User Activity.

More specifically, this error is an issue when regular OR group discussion forums are made unavailable to students whether by:

      * Setting Available to No
      * Using Date and Time Restrictions or
      * Using Adaptive Release.

The simplest workaround for forum Managers or Builders to view the entire forum in context is to temporarily make the Discussion forum available to students, then make it unavailable again when finished. 

For courses where forums have been made unavailable in order to prevent students from creating new posts after the due date,  (a) make the forum available, then (b) edit roles in the forum to change students from “Participants” to “Readers.” Making students “Readers” allows them to see the forum, but prevents them from posting any new items:

Use the drop-down menu (next to the forum title) / Manage/ Select All/ Edit Role/ Reader

Note:  there is also a “Blocked” role, but if and when students try to access the forum, the Blocked role generates an imposing error message, “Access Denied.”  To avoid confusion for students, we do not recommend using this role unless it is temporary and/ or students are warned ahead of time.