Blackboard Learn offers a number of tools that make it easier for staff and students to communicate and collaborate with each other.

The following is an overview of the main communication tools:

  • Announcements - are a useful way of broadcasting general course information such as due dates for assignments and schedule changes. 
  • Blogs - allow students or staff to post content and allow other users to comment on the blog post. More information can be found on the Blackboard help website.
  • Discussion Forums - can be used for many purposes such as to discuss specific course material, encourage collaborative work or deal with course queries. 
  • Emails -  you can send emails from Blackboard to other users enrolled on your course. This is useful if you want to have a private discussion not suitable for a forum. 
  • Wikis - allow students to work together to create web pages. Wiki entries can include text, attachments and multimedia files. More information can be found on the Blackboard help website.

BB Comms

Discussion Forums 

Each Blackboard course has its own Discussion Board. This then contains separate Discussion Forums, which in turn are made up of Threads and it's responses. You have the option to deploy either a link to the course's general Discussion Board or a link to a specific Forum.

Discussions are a good way to encourage students to think critically about coursework and interact with each other's  ideas. You can create discussions around individual course sections or for your course in general. As the instructor, you own the discussions and are responsible for moderating the content. 

To create a new Discussion Forum, add a link to it and begin a discussion thread with students, carry out the following instructions:

  1. Navigate to the required course and content area that you would like to add the Discussion ForumClick on the Tools menu and choose the Discussion Board option
  2. Select the Create New Forum option
  3. The next page allows you to specify the settings of this forum. Attention should be paid to options such as Allow Anonymous Posts and Force Moderation of Posts. Select Submit. If you need advice on how to set up your Discussion Forum, contact your Faculty Learning Technologist.
  4. You have now created a forum that you can link to on the course. To deploy the forum, ensure Select a Discussion Board Forum is selected and choose the forum name you have just created in the selection box. Then click Next
  5. You will then access the Link Information and further options. Alter these if necessary and select Submit to proceed
  6. Your Discussion Forum will now be deployed at the bottom of the content area. Move it to the desired location and click on the title to access the forum
  7. You can now create a conversation Thread by selecting Create Thread
  8. Add a Subject and the Message and select Submit
  9. Your thread will now be displayed in the forum and students enrolled on the course will be able to reply.

This is intended as a basic introduction to Discussions, for further information please see the Blackboard help website for more information. 


Announcements are an ideal way to post time-sensitive information critical to a course. For example, you may want to add announcements for the following types of course activities:  

  • Due dates for assignments and projects  
  • Changes to your syllabus  
  • Corrections/clarifications of materials  
  • Exam schedules  

Students will be notified when a new announcement is posted through a red icon next to their name in the top right-hand corner of all Blackboard pages. 

To post an announcement carry out the following steps:

  1. Navigate to the required course and select Course Tools and then Announcements
  2. Select Create Announcement. Previous announcements that you have posted will be displayed here
  3. Add a Subject and your Message. You can also select date restrictions and a link to a specific item of content on your course
  4. Select Submit to post your announcement.

Please see the Blackboard website for more information on Announcements.


The email tool allows you to send emails to specific user groups in your course. For example, you could send an email to the teaching staff on a course or all the students. You can also send emails to individual users or to groups of students if you have setup groups on your course. Emails will be sent from your Imperial email address.

To send an email, carry out the following steps:

  1. Navigate to the required course and select Course Tools and then Send Email
  2. Select the cohort of users that you would like the email to be delivered to. For example, you can send an email to all Teaching Assistants on your course. If you have groups set up in your course then you can send to a specific group.
  3. Compose the email and select Submit.

To learn more about sending emails in Blackboard, see the Blackboard website.