Other Blackboard Tools

This document describes various Tools you may use in Blackboard. If you are having trouble finding or adding a tool, please download and read the Managing Tool Availability instructions (below). To jump directly to a section, select a link!

  • Communication- Announcements, sending Email and Messages from Blackboard, and using Blogs.
  • Collaboration- Using the Wikis and Discussion Board.
  • Information- Using the Address Book, Course Calendar, Tasks tool, and Glossary.
  • Assessment- Self and Peer Assessment and Personal Portfolios.



Announcements is a Course Tool within Blackboard that allows Instructors to compose and share important information with other instructors and students. Unlike the Send Email tool, these communications are displayed on the Announcements page within the course, although students may choose to receive announcement posts via email as well.

Send Email vs. Messages

Send Email is a Course Tool within Blackboard that allows enrolled course members to easily send emails to each other without needing to know the recipient's preferred email address. Emails can be sent directly to one or more enrolled users and will be routed to the recipient's preferred external email account (the address the recipient provided to the Blackboard system). Send Email is the preferred method of contacting course users.

Messages is a Course Tool within Blackboard that allows private, internal messaging between course participants. Messages can be sent directly to one or more enrolled users and will appear in the recipient's Blackboard Message center rather than their external email account. Use of this tool is not recommended at UK without clear instructions, since students may not understand that it functions differently than Send Email. Messages at the course level have been set to 'default off.' If you wish to use, please navigate to Customization within the Control Panel of your course and select Tool Availability. Within Tool Availability, you will be able to find and turn on 'Course Messages.'


A blog—a shorthand term that means web log—is a personal online journal that is frequently updated and intended for general public access and use. Most blogs also have some kind of commenting system, so that people can respond to and interact with one another. Blogs encourage students to clearly express their ideas and addresses the need to expand various aspects of social learning. Moreover, they are an effective means of gaining insight into students' activities and provide a way to share the knowledge and materials collected.

In Blackboard Learn, blogs are created and managed by instructors, and only enrolled users can view and create entries and comments in them. There are three options for creating blogs in Blackboard:

  • Course Blog-- Allows all course members to view and contribute to the entire blog. Entries post in reverse chronological order, with the most recent appearing first. All members’ entries are displayed. To see only one person’s entries, click that person’s name in the right column under View Entries.
  • Individual Blog-- Gives each person a blog, but it displays them in one accessible area. When a student or instructor logs in, he or she will see his or her own entries by default, but they may view anyone else’s entries by clicking their name in the right column under View Entries.
  • Journal-- Provides private space for the writer. Those enrolled as students will see only their own journal and entries, and will not see any other names listed in the right column. The instructor(s) will see all names listed in the right column and may click on those names to access their entries. The instructor may also keep a journal there, as well; however, any TAs or other instructors in the course will be able to see that journal.




A wiki is a collection of pages that can be created, edited, updated, and organized at the will of the contributors. A wiki is a great way to quickly paste together important course material and information so that it can be available for all, or some (as the Instructor wishes) course users.

Discussion Board

The Discussion Board is a Course Tool within Blackboard used to promote interaction and sharing of ideas within a course. Forums can be used for formal course-related discussion or casual conversation. Discussion board forums may be graded or ungraded and each forum may contain one or more topics, each of which is called a thread.

Note: When typing a long post into the discussion board, it is possible that your connection can time out due to several factors. In order to avoid this, and the possibility of losing your work, it is suggested that you type your thread or response in a different text editor (such as Notepad). From your text editor you can copy and paste the thread or response into the text box, and format as you like.


Address Book

You can store contact information in an Address Book. The Address Book is empty until you create contacts. You must create a profile for anyone you want to add to your Address Book, even if the contact is a Blackboard Learn user. This tool is not course-specific, so the information is available to you regardless of which Blackboard course you are in.

Course Calendar

You can use the Course Calendar to provide students with dates for course related events. Course Calendar events appear to all members of the course. If students access the calendar while in your course, they will only see the entries you have added. If they access the calendar from the My Institution tab, it includes the following:

  • Their personal entries
  • Entries for all courses in which they are enrolled
  • Entries for any organizations in which they are enrolled
  • Institution-wide events

Common entries you may include in the Course Calendar are:

  • Section meetings
  • Assignment due dates
  • Exams
  • Guest speakers


The Tasks tool is used to organize projects or activities (referred to as tasks) by defining task priority and tracking task status.

A user can create tasks and post them to the Tasks page. Each user can post personal tasks to their page. Instructors can post tasks to users participating in their courses, and administrators can post tasks to all users’ Tasks pages. Task information is arranged in columns that display the priority, task name, status, and due date.

Tasks are also available as a course group tool for tasks that are specific to a smaller group within a course.


Each course has its own glossary of terms, and each entry you add will consist of a term and its accompanying definition. You need to enable the glossary before students can view it. When the glossary is ready for students to view, make sure the Glossary tool is available.


If you are looking for more information regarding Assignments, SafeAssign, Tests and Surveys, Respondus, or the Grade Center, please visit their respective pages.

Self and Peer Assessment

The Self and Peer Assessment building block allows you to create an exercise composed of one or more questions, each with one or more criteria, to be presented to your students for completion and evaluation. These tests, along with their questions and criteria, are exported and then imported for later use.

Questions provide content to the assessment. They can be as simple ("Name the logical fallacy displayed in this argument") or as complex ("In 500 words, describe the main reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire") as you like.

Criteria accompanying each question provide the means to evaluate the responses to those questions. Here are some sample criteria:

  • Does the response place the issue within the broader context of the subject?
  • Is the response well organized and clearly laid out?
  • Was the response proofread carefully? Was it free of significant grammatical, spelling, or typographical errors?

The Self and Peer Assessment building block is a tool designed to facilitate the objective, analytical, and learning comprehension skills of students. Reviewing the work of fellow students through criteria-based reference evaluation allows constructive feedback. The constructive feedback that students give to and receive from their peers can enhance their comprehension of the subject material and provide valuable insights into their own efforts.

Personal Portfolios

Portfolios collect and organize pieces of work completed over time. They are compilations of work with a general purpose or goal to showcase progress and achievement. Users are given tools to present their information in a cohesive, personalized format, and have control over style or appearance.

However, before having your students begin creating Portfolios within your course, please make sure to do the following:

1. Create a Portfolio Homepage tool link within your Course Menu.

2. If you wish your students to be able to see everyone’s portfolios, create a Course Portfolios tool link within the Course Menu, as well.

3. If you wish students to only be able to see their own portfolio, select Hide Link for Course Portfolios within the Tools page. For ease of use, you can still create a Course Portfolios tool link within the Course Menu, but make it hidden to users so only Instructors can access. Course Portfolios is where the completed portfolio submissions will show up to review.

4. Provide students with instructions that include:

a. Portfolio components (sections)

i. Accepted works

ii. Acceptable file types

b. Course ID of course to share it with (should be current course)

Portfolio submissions can be located by clicking Course Portfolios within the Course Menu. On the next page, choose a portfolio to view by clicking a submission in the Title column. This will bring up a new tab with a list of the portfolio components. Click one of the components to view a list of the student’s files for that category. From here you can click a file to open it.


Please note the changes to Portfolios with the recent update.  The written instructions below describe any differences.