Blackboard / Instructional Design

Communication Tools in Blackboard

As you manage your online, hybrid or enhanced courses, it helps to understand the three options Blackboard offers for important personal and group communication with students. You can use course My Messages tool, the Announcement tool or Email (to college Saints address). Below are some tips and best practices for managing these systems of communication.

BB Messages

  • System: In-course messages. Instructor and students must be logged into BB to see messages from course sections.
  • Notification: Medium Efficacy—A message module on BB Online Courses Homepage, the Global Navigation tool on top right of BB screens or through the My Messages link in your Course Menu.
  • Best Use: Answer questions, address course problems replying to student messages.
  • Avoid using for: Turning in coursework, delivering instruction, providing assignment feedback
  • Benefits: Compartmentalized, easy to keep straight.
  • Drawbacks: Compartmentalized. Buried. Difficult to access from mobile devices

BB Announcements

  • System: In-course announcement with option to send via college email. Instructor and students must be logged into BB to see announcements not sent via email.
  • Notification: Medium Efficacy—An Announcement module on BB Online Courses Homepage, the Global Navigation tool on top right of BB screens or through optional link in your Course Menu.
  • Best Use: General updates, changes in schedule, identifying course-wide issues or problems.
  • Avoid using for: Delivering instruction, providing specific assignment feedback.
  • Benefits: Easy to communicate to the class as a whole, can save and reuse from term to term.
  • Drawbacks: Easy to miss if not configured to send via email. Even if sent via email, the Saints email drawbacks apply (see below).

College Email

  • System: MHCC or Saints email
  • Notification: High Efficacy—Computer, phone, tablet—any mobile device on which you receive college email.
  • Best Use: Answer questions, address course problems, changes in schedules or updates.
  • Avoid using for: Turning in coursework, delivering instruction, providing assignment feedback
  • Benefits: Effective; great to put out fires, solve problems, deal with emergencies from anywhere.
  • Drawbacks: 
    • For Instructors: Information assault. You can’t hide unless you specifically indicate to students you are not reading email. Can be overwhelming. Use Message Rules to help manage Outlook email.
    • For Students: Saints email usage is not universal. Many students don’t check it and therefore, don’t see your email communications or Blackboard notifications. Advise students to download and install the Outlook phone app or set up forward rules from Saints to personal email.
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