Module 2: Communication Tools in Blackboard

icon of a cell phone that indicates a group callBlackboard includes several communication and interaction tools that you can add and use in your course. This includes Blogs, Wikis, Journals, and a Groups Tool. But most TAs will be using Announcements, Email, and Discussions, so we will focus in on these common tools in this module.

Send an Announcement

Announcements in Blackboard are a great way to send course-wide message to students. They can remain posted in the course all semester for easy access, which is why some instructors prefer announcements instead of email. You can also choose to send a copy of the announcement to student's email. To send an announcement:

  1. Click Course Tools in left-hand menu
  2. Click Announcements
  3. Click Create Announcement and add a Subject
  4. Type or paste your message into the content area
  5. If you'd like to forward the announcement immediately to student emails, then select that option. Either way, the new announcement will be available for students in Blackboard via the Announcement and the What's New and Due tools.
  6. Hit Submit to post the announcement

Send and View Messages/Emails in Blackboard

Blackboard has an internal email tool, sometimes called Course Messages and sometimes called Email depending on how your instructor set it up. It allows users to send and receive messages through the system without having to use actual email addresses. Users can send messages to one, some, or all of the other users in the class.

Blackboard will retain these messages throughout the semester in user's Inbox and Sent folders. As a TA, you can communicate with students and with your instructor with this tool.

Please Note: your instructor may have preferences for how you communicate with students and with them.
This tool may not be the preferred way, so check with your instructor to see how they would like you to communicate. 

  1. Click on Mail on the Course Menu (might be called something else, like Course Messages or Email)
  2. Click Create Message.
  3. Click on To to view the recipients in the course. Highlight the name or names in the left-hand column and click the top arrow to move the name to the Recipient column.
  4. Add the Subject and type or paste your message into the content area.
  5. Click Submit to send the message

To view messages you have received:

  1. Go to the Mail/Messages and note the Unread and Total number of messages and
  2. Click on Inbox to view your messages. The Status of messages will be indicated as Read or Unread.
  3. You can read or Reply to these messages the same way you would in a typical email tools

Discussion Forums - Create a Discussion Forum

Discussion Forums in Blackboard are used as class-wide discussions, so all users can read and post messages in a Forum. As a TA, you can add the tool to the Course Menu, create a new Forum (i.e., Week 1 Discussions), post an opening Thread, and reply to other's posts. Discussions can also be graded.

To create a new Forum:

  1. Go to Course Tools > Discussion Board, or if you've added Discussions to your course Menu you can access it from there
  2. Click on Create a Forum
  3. Name the forum something meaningful and descriptive so students will understand what it is for.
  4. Make the forum available, and you can also set date and time restrictions if you'd like to automate the opening and closing of the forum
  5. Review the various settings, options, and choose accordingly based on what you are trying to accomplish
  6. Click Submit

To create a new Thread:

  1. Enter the Forum you created above, or any Forum
  2. Click Create Thread
  3. Add a Subject, type your Message
  4. Click Submit. Your thread is now viewable by all users in the class.

Use Discussion Forums

As students begin participating in Discussion Forums, you'll want to be able to monitor activity, search for past threads, and participate actively. The video below is the best way for you to get oriented to using the Discussion Forum in Blackboard.

Go to Module 3: TA Office Hours