Blackboard Communication Tools

Blackboard contains many features and tools that can be useful for enhancing and encouraging communication with, and between, your students. Below you will find information on the following tools:



Take a look at this video to find out how to create an announcement and set various options.

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Sending Emails from Blackboard

Take a look at this video to find out how to send an email to specific users and set details within the email. Remember also that the same principles of selection can be applied when choosing to email selected groups.

Please note that you will find the Send Email option in your module on the Communications & Tools page.

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Discussion Boards

Discussion Boards are commonly used in online learning to facilitate asynchronous discussion and to promote reflective learning. They can also add value to courses that are delivered face-to-face by creating spaces for questions and reflections on course or module related activity.

The following article published by Teacherstream (2009) entitled Mastering Online Discussion Board Facilitation provides a useful starting point if you’re interested in exploring discussion boards with your students.

Next take a look at this video. It will show you how to create a forum and add a direct link to it from a content area in a module.

Note that you will find a link to the Discussion Board in your module from either the Discussions or the Communication & Tools page.

For more information on the various settings you can adjust when creating a forum see Create Forums in Blackboard help.

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Working with Groups

Groups allow tutors to create groups of students within a module or organisation. These groups have their own area in Blackboard Learn to collaborate, and these spaces are equipped with tools to assist in that process. These are often the same tools as identified above, but with access restricted for use within the group rather than for the whole cohort.

More information can be found on the Groups pages.

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Collaborate is an online virtual classroom/meeting space which allows users to connect via audio, see each other via webcams, use a chat tool, collaborate on documents and view presentations, as well as other features. More information can be found on the Collaborate pages.

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Course Messages

Please note: Course messages have a slightly misleading name – they function only within a module, not across a whole course.

They provide a familiar, email-like environment that you can use for communication between participants on a module. It provides additional privacy because external email addresses are not used. You cannot receive course messages outside or between your modules. The module Home Page notifies you when you receive new course messages.

You and your students can usually access course messages through the tools area of a course. However, you can restrict access or create a link on the course menu so that course messages are directly accessible.

Step 1
On the module navigation menu, click Communication & Tools.

Step 2
From the list of tools, click Course Messages.

Step 3
You will then see your Messages area. From here you can view your inbox and sent mail, and create new messages.

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As an instructor, you add tasks to your course. You can use the tasks tool to organise projects or activities by defining task priority and tracking task status.
Once tasks have been created, they will appear to students on the Home area of the module or can be accessed through the Communication & Tools link in the navigation menu.

Create Tasks

Step 1
Select Communication and Tools from the navigation menu.

Step 2
From the list of tools, click Tasks.

Step 3
You will then see the tasks area with any pre-existing tasks listed here. To add a task click the Create Course Task button.

Step 4
Give the task a title and, optionally, a description to give more information.

Step 5
Set a due date for the task.

Step 6
Set a priority for the task to let students know which tasks to complete first.

Step 7
Click Submit to save the task. You will then see the task in your list of tasks.

Monitor tasks

Students can mark a task as Not started, In Progress, or Completed.

You will be able to see a quick overview of all tasks and the number of students who are at each stage.

To see which students are at which stage for an individual task simply click the task title and you will get a more in-depth look.

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The glossary is a tool you can use to define terms that will be used throughout the module. Each glossary entry consists of a term and a definition.

Staff and students can access the glossary through the Communication & Tools link in the navigation menu.

And then selecting the Glossary icon.

You can add glossary terms in two ways:

Create a glossary term within Blackboard

Step 1
On the Glossary page, click the Create Term button.

Step 2
Enter the term and the definition in the fields and then click Submit to save.

Bulk upload glossary terms from a file

Step 1
Create your glossary using a programme like Excel or a simple text editor.

  • Excel – file should have one term and one definition per row, with the term in one column and the definition in the next column and saved as a CSV file.
  • Text – one entry per line, separate the term from the definition by a comma or by a tab, and save the file in CSV or TXT format.

Step 2
On the Glossary page, click the Upload/Download button.

Step 3
Browse your computer/content content collection for the file and then select the processing method – either add terms or replace terms.

Step 4
Click Submit to upload and save your glossary terms.

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