Communicate & Collaborate

Tools Management

Instructors have a variety of collaboration tools, including a few new tools like blogs, wikis, and journals, to choose from and to make available for students to use in a Blackboard course.

In this version of Blackboard, instructors can now place tools on course page within the context of related course materials and enter a meaningful name for a tool (e.g. instead of using a generic label like "Discussion Board," you can enter a name for the tool that indicates the topic of the discussion). Instructors can also easily link to a collaboration tool (e.g. a wiki) or set of tools from the course menu and again edit the name to provide a meaningful label.

The "Tools" page is still provided, and if you wish to use that as the entry point to the tool set you wish your students to use, instructors will need to make sure that a link to that page is available to students.

Add a Collaboration Tool to a Course Page

  1. From a content area in the course and with "Edit Mode" turned ON, mouse over the "Add Interactive Tool" button located at the top of the page to expand the tool selections.
    Add Interactive Tool Screenshot
  2. Select from the dropdown menu, the collaborative tool you want to link to from the content area you are currently working in:
    • Discussion Board
    • Blog
    • Journal
    • Wiki
    • Groups
    • Chat
    • Virtual Classroom
  3. Rearrange where the link to the tool is placed on the page or see the documentation on how to rearrange items on a page.

Add a Tool to the Course Menu

Click the plus (+) button in the course menu and select "Create Tool Link." Enter a name for the link and choose the tool from the list. Then optionally click the checkbox to make it available to users. Once you make it available, students will have access to the link. If you do not make it available, only users with the role of instructor and TA will have access to the link.
Add Tool Link Screenshot

Add Access to the Tools Area

The Tools Area is still available for your use. If you want students to access this area, you will need to make sure you have provided a link to it. Click the (+) sign in the course menu to add a link to the Tools Area from the course menu.
Add Tool Link to Tools Area Screenshot

Within the Tools Area, individual tools can be disabled by clicking the "Hide Link" button next to the particular tool.
Tools Area Screenshot

Make Tools Available

Instructors have the ability to determine which course tools are available to students. You can either leave the default settings and provide access to all, or use a limited set of tools and create links to those. If you want students to access the tools, make sure a link to the tools is available for them.

Tool Availability Screenshot

Expand the Control Panel and click "Tool Availability" under the "Customization" menu. The list of all tools will appear and you can select to make them available or unavailable to students. Some commonly used tools include:

Course Tools

Blackboard provides many tools for instructors to configure and use with students in a Blackboard course.


Announcements Header Screenshot


Blogs are an open communications tool for students to share their thoughts. Blogs can be made available for each student or for groups that you have set up in your Blackboard course. Instructors are also able to participate in posts to facilitate collaboration.
Blogs Header Screenshot

Create a Blog

Click on the "Create Blog" button, enter a name and instructions (if desired) for the blog, select availability and settings, and click "Submit".

Make a Blog available to students

Select "Yes" to make the blog immediately available to students. And/or choose date and time restrictions to limit students access to the blog.

Select Blog settings

The "Blog Settings" offer instructors some additional functionality. Click "Monthly" or "Weekly" to select an indexing method. Optionally, one or both of the checkboxes if you want students to be able to "Edit" and/or "Delete" blog entries and comments.

Open, edit, or delete a Blog

Instructors can open, edit, and delete blogs they have set up by accessing the contextual menu located next to the blog title. Click on the down arrow icon to expose and choose to "Open," "Edit," or "Delete" a blog.

Collaboration Sessions (Virtual Classrooms and Chat)

Collaboration tools offer instructors and students the ability to participate in real-time course discussions via the Internet. There are two types of collaboration tools available: "Virtual Classroom" and "Chat." The "Virtual Classroom" enables instructors and students to browse the web, participate in question-and-answer sessions, as well as chats. "Chat," on the other hand, provides the singular functionality of a chat tool.
Collaboration Header Screenshot

Create a Collaboration Session

Click on the "Create Collaboration Session" button. Enter the required information and then click "Submit".

Edit or delete a Collaboration Session

Click the down arrow icon located next to the name of the Collaboration Session you would like to change. Then choose either "Edit" or "Delete".

Search a Collaboration Session

Select a search criterion from the "Search by" dropdown menu. Users may search by "Session Name," "Start Date," or "End Date." If desired, you can also choose to filter your search returns by session type using the "Filter" dropdown menu. Click "Go". The Collaboration session search returns will be listed according to the search criteria you selected.


Using "Contacts", instructors are able to post information about themselves, teaching assistants, and guest speakers. Students can then use this to look up names, email addresses, office hours, and photographs of course instructors. There is also an option to create folders to organize multiple contacts by, for example, Instructors, TAs, Guest Speakers.
Contacts Header Screenshot

Add a Contact

  1. Begin the Contact creation process: To begin, create a new "Contact" by clicking the "Create Contact" button located from the "Contacts" page within your Blackboard course.
  2. Enter Contact information: Next, enter the required field "Email" information and any additional optional profile information you wish to include (e.g. title, first name, last name, work phone, office location, office hours, and notes. Optionally you may provide the individual's availability settings, a picture, and/or a personal link.
  3. Complete the Contact creation process: Click the "Submit" button to complete the contact creation process.

Edit or Delete

You can "Edit" or "Delete" a "Contact" by using the contextual menu located next to the contact's name. Click on the down arrow icon located next to the "Contact" you would like to modify and then select "Edit" or "Delete" from the dropdown menu.

Course Calendar

Course Calendar Header Screenshot

Discussion Board

Discussion Board Header Screenshot

Add a Discussion Board

Create a link for a Discussion Board either in a content area or in the course menu or navigate to the Tools area and create a forum directly in the Discussion Board tool.


Instructors can provide students with a "Glossary" of discipline-specific terms for use in the course. Terms displayed in the "Glossary" are categorized and listed alphabetically.
Glossary Header Screenshot

Add a Glossary Term — Web Interface

To create a new term from web page, click on the "Create Term" button located in the "Glossary" tool page of your course. In the Create Term page, input the term and its definition. Click "Submit" to save the glossary entry.

Add a Glossary Term — Excel Spreadsheet Upload

Glossary terms can be managed offline using the import and export functionality of the "Glossary" tool. Click the "Upload/Download" contextual menu located at top of the Glossary page to perform this action.

  1. Download all the terms in the Glossary to an Excel file format.
  2. Add and edit Glossary terms in your downloaded Excel file.
  3. Upload the revised Excel file and select options for how Blackboard should reconcile the content differences (between the existing content in Blackboard and the revised content in the Excel spreadsheet) by either choosing to append the content or by choosing to replace the content. Blackboard will revise the Glossary according to your selection of the processing method for the uploaded file.


A journal is a self-reflective tool for students. Only the student and the Instructor are able to comment on journal entries. From the "Journal" index page, instructors are able to open and monitor the status of all journals by clicking on the journal title.
Journal Header Screenshot

Create a Journal

From within the "Journal" tool in your Blackboard course, click the "Create Journal" button to create a new journal. Enter required information and select from "Journal Settings". Click "Submit" to complete the creation process.

View Students' Journal Entries

Click on the journal name to launch the list of students with journals under that title, then click on a particular student's name to launch that student's journal entries.

Post an Instructor Entry in a Student's Journal

Instructors may post their own journal entries. Note: If a journal is set to "Private", the instructor and individual student to whom the journal belongs are the only users in the course who have access to that particular student's journal and both can create journal entries.


Messages are private and secure text-based communications that occur between users associated with a particular Blackboard course.
Messages Header Screenshot

Create and Send a Message

To create a new message, click on the "Create Message" button. On the "Compose Message" page, select recipients, enter a subject line and message text. Click "Submit" to send the message.

See Sent Messages

To look at message(s) that you have sent to others, click on the "Sent" link.

Check Incoming Messages

To check message(s) others have sent to you, click on the "Inbox" link.


Generally speaking, rubrics help instructors to communicate to students the metric on which their work will be evaluated and consequently rubrics help students to better understand where to focus their time, attention, and effort. The rubric tool in Blackboard organizes evaluation criteria for an assignment into a grid of columns and rows. The rows correspond to the various criteria for an assignment. The columns correspond to the level of achievement for each criterion. A description and point value for each cell in the rubric define the evaluation and score of an assignment.
Rubrics Header Screenshot

Create a Rubric

  1. Navigate to the "Rubrics" tool page and click on the "Create Rubric" button.
  2. Enter a name and description for your rubric.
  3. Add the details to your rubric with the help of contextual menus positioned in the column and row heading cells.
  4. Click "Submit" to complete the rubric creation process.

Edit the Rubric

You can edit headings as well as remove columns and rows.

Self and Peer Assessments

The "Self and Peer Assessment" tool is intended for students to evaluate themselves and/or their peers within a Blackboard course. Instructors first create an assessment and then manage the Self and Peer Assessment using the interface this tool provides.

You can find the "Self and Peer Assessment" tool by expanding the "Control Panel" and the "Course Tools" menu. All previously created self and peer assessments will be listed.

To view a "Self and Peer Assessment," click on the down arrows icon positioned next to a particular assessment heading listed in the first column. In the drop-down options, select the action to view details of this assessment.

Send Email

Instructors and students can send email to all or any users listed in the Blackboard course roster. The "Send Email" tool is listed under "Course Tools" in the "Control Panel."
Send Email Header Screenshot

  1. Select recipients of the message: Once you are within the "Send Email" tool area, choose the recipients for you email using the left and right selection boxes. With one click you can select all names by using the "Select All" button. Click on the names to select one or multiple names in the list. Then use the arrow buttons situated between the two selection boxes to move the intended recipients from the left to the right "Selected Items" box.
  2. Enter message information: Enter your subject line, message text, and attach files if needed.
  3. Send email: Click the "Submit" button to send out the email.
    Note: Emails will be sent to the recipients' Andrew email account(s).


Using the "Tasks" tool, instructors can set up course tasks and monitor students' progress on tasks.
Tasks Header Screenshot

Add a Task

To add a task, click the "Create Course Task" button. Fill in the name, description, and set up the Due Date and Priority of the task.

Delete a Task

To delete task, select the checkbox next to the task you want to delete, then click the "Delete" button.

View Students' Status

View students' status on "Tasks" by clicking on the task title link. Note: You can sort the tasks listing by clicking on the column headings.

Test, Surveys, and Pools

See instructions for how to create tests in Blackboard


A Wiki is a collaboration tool that students can use to contribute and modify content.
Wikis Header Screenshot

Create a Wiki

  1. Create a new Wiki: Click the "Create Wiki" button, then enter a wiki name and instructions for students (if desired).
  2. Make the Wiki available to students: To make the Wiki available to students, you will need to specify the "Wiki Date and Time Restrictions" options. Select "Yes" to make it immediately available and/or specify the dates during which you want the Wiki to be available to students.
  3. Set participation and grading preferences: Instructors can allow students to edit Wiki entries or not, and can make a Wiki a graded item or not depending on the settings the instructor chooses for these options.
  4. Complete the creation process: Click "Submit" to complete the Wiki creation process. Once created, the Wiki will be displayed in the Rubric page. Note: After a Wiki is created, you MUST create at least one Wiki page before the Wiki can be used.

Populate Wiki Content

To create a Wiki page, first click on the title of a Wiki you have already created. Then, click the "Create Wiki Page" button. Next, enter a name/title for the page and optionally enter content you want to add to the page. Then click "Submit" to complete the new wiki page creation process.

Add or Edit Comments on a Wiki Page

From within a Wiki page that you have already created, click either the "Edit Wiki Content" button or the "Comment" button. The page will become editable and content can be added and/or edited.

Open a Wiki, Edit Wiki Properties, or Delete a Wiki

To open, edit properties, or delete a Wiki, use the contextual menu located next to a Wiki title link. Click the down arrow icon to expose the dropdown menu options and select the action you would like to perform (Open, Edit Properties, or Delete).

Set Up Groups

Instructors are able to set up groups in Blackboard to support collaboration. Depending on your preferences, users can be enrolled in groups manually, randomly, or through self-enrollment.

Create a Group

Instructors can create Group pages for a single group or for a group set and can then link to group pages from within course content pages. From a content area in the course, click on the "Add Interactive Tool" button and select "Groups." (Alternatively, you can follow a similar creation process by navigating to the "Control Panel, selecting "Users and Groups," and then selecting "Groups.")

  1. Click on the "Create Single Group button or "Create Group Set", and select either "Self-Enroll" or "Manual Enroll".
    Create Single Group Menu Screenshot
    Create Group Set Menu Screenshot
    • Self-Enroll allows students to join the Group themselves by adding their name to a sign-up sheet. Sign-up sheets can be made available on the Groups page, and can limit the number of people allowed to join the Group. Self-Enrollment Groups can be made one at a time, or made in sets.
    • Manual Enroll allows the instructor to assign students to groups.
    • Random Enroll distributes students into Groups randomly and based on the desired number of students per group, or the desired number of Groups. For example, if there are 24 students enrolled in a Course, and the Instructor wants four students per group, the system would create six Groups. If the Instructor wanted four groups, the system would randomly enroll six students per Group.
  2. Choose to make the group unavailable, available or sign-up sheet only.
    • Instructors may click "No" for the group to be unavailable in case the instructor needs to finish with the options before the students can see it.
    • Clicking "Yes" will put up a sign-up sheet and students will be enrolled when they sign up.
    • Selecting "Sign-up Sheet Only" will create a sign-up sheet and the instructor will need to approve the groups before the students are actually enrolled.
  3. Click "Submit" to create group.

Edit or Delete a Group

Click on the down arrows next to the name of a group and then click on "Edit" or "Delete."
Group Context Menu Screenshot

View Group Pages

Once groups are created for users in a course, instructors can access the group pages for every group in the course and students can access the group pages for the groups they are in.

  1. Go to the Control Panel, Users and Groups, and then select Groups.
  2. Click on the Group Name to view the group page. Instructors are able to add course modules, add group modules, email group members, edit group tools and assignments.

Group Page Screenshot

Add Course Modules

Click on the "Add Course Module" button. Select the modules to appear on the group page, and click "Submit".
Add Course Module to Group Page Screenshot

Add Group Modules

Click on the "Add Group Module" button, select modules to appear on the group page, and click "Submit".
Add Group Module to Group Page Screenshot

Email Group Members

Click on the down arrows next to the Group Members, choose "Email", then type the email message and click "Submit".
Send Email to Group Screenshot