Communicating with Students

There are several ways for you to communicate with students using various Blackboard tools. One is that you push information out to students by posting announcements in the course and sending out email messages. You can also push out the assignment due dates by setting up due dates in the assignments. Another way is to interact with students publicly on discussion board, blogs or journals. Grade Center is a place where you can provide private feedback.

Pushing information to students

Blackboard has two tools for instructors to send information to students. One is the Announcements tool; the other is the Email tool. The Announcements tool also allows instructor to send an announcement email to students. The differences are:

  • Announcements tool will post the information in the course Announcements area, in addition to sending an email to students while Email tool will only send an email to students.
  • Announcements tool can only send the information to all course users while email tool can send the information to all course users, selected users or groups.

Our recommendations:

  • If you want to send information to all members in the course, use the Announcements tool.
  • If you want to send information or private messages to selected users or groups, use the Email tool.

In order to send email using any tools in Blackboard, you need a valid email address in Blackboard. You can check and update your email by following the steps in Setting up the Blackboard Home Page.

Posting and Sending announcements in the course

In the Course Management area, click “Course Tools”, then Announcements. Click “Create Announcement” on the action bar.  Type in a subject, then your message. You can attach files or embed images in the message by using the “Insert File” icon, that is, the paper clip, or “Insert/Edit Image” icon, that is, the picture on the toolbar. Check the check box for “Email Announcement”.  Click Submit to post and send the message.

Sending email messages

In your course management section click “Course Tools”, then “Send Email”.  On the “Send Email” screen choose an appropriate link to send an email to all class members, single/selected members or single/selected groups. If you choose to send to single/selected users, under “To” in the “Available to select” box, select the class members to whom you want to send an email, then with the arrow move them to the “Selected” box. Type in a Subject and your message in the appropriate boxes. Optionally you can attach files to the email by clicking “Attach a file” link. At last, click Submit to send the email.  Please note: you will always receive a copy of your email message in your email inbox.

Due Dates

If you have set up the due dates in Blackboard for your assignments such as tests, discussion forums, on your course Home page, all due dates for assignments will be pushed to “What’s Due” of the “To Do” panel and the Blackboard mobile app activity stream which is the first thing students will see. To learn how to set up the due date for each of different types of assignments, go to our Blackboard for faculty Individual Learning Activities tutorial page.

Interact with students and provide public feedback

Discussion Board, Blog and Journal are good tools for feedback between instructors and students.

Discussion Board:

Students’ posts on Discussion Board provide opportunities for you to gauge student learning. You can provide feedback to students’ posts on class or group discussion forums using the Reply button under individual posts.

We recommend that you create a discussion forum called “Questions about course topics and assignments” where students can post their questions. You subscribe to this forum so that you will get an email notification whenever a student posts a question. You can also invite students to answer questions. In terms of response time, you should first tell students your response time – set up expectations. On the other hand, prompt responses will motivate students and support student engagement.

To learn how to create and set up a discussion forum, go to our tutorials on Using the Discussion Board tool.  To reply to a message on the forum, click the Reply button under the message.

Blogs and Journals:

Both Blogs and Journals provide opportunities for students to reflect on their learning. Both you and students can use the Comments feature of Blogs and Journals to converse on course related topics. Blogs are public while Journals are private by default.

To learn how to create and set up a blog, go to our tutorials on Using the Blog tool.

To learn how to create and set up a journal, go to our tutorials on Using the Journal tool.

Using Grade Center for private feedback

Blackboard grade center provides space for you to provide private and personalized feedback to students’ course work. To learn how to use the grade center tool to provide feedback to students, go to the appropriate tutorials below.

Setting up the Grade Center

If you have not set up the grade center in your course, follow the tutorials in section 1.3.3 at Before the Semester Starts.

Providing feedback for Non-Blackboard Assignments

If you collect the assignments outside of Blackboard, follow the tutorials for Non-Blackboard Assignments to create grade columns and enter grades as well as feedback.

Providing feedback for assignments created in Blackboard

For individual learning activities, follow the appropriate tutorials at the Individual Learning Activities page.

For group activities, follow the appropriate tutorials at the Group Learning Activities page.