Set up communication and collaboration tools

Discussion forums

Every Blackboard course has a Discussion Board. You can create multiple forums within the Discussion Board, each of which may contain several discussion threads. You can also create a group discussion board, so that each group of students can hold their own discussions.

Create a forum

If you are using the course Discussion Board, you need to create the forums before your students can use it. In a group discussion board students can create their own forums. To create a forum:

  1. Choose Course Tools > Discussion Board and choose the discussion board for the course.
  2. Click the Create Forum button at the top of the screen.
  3. For more information including advice on the settings to choose, see Blackboard's Create Forums help page.

Create a link to the Discussion Board

To enable your students to use the discussion forums, you can either create a link to the Discussion Board in the course menu on the left, or add a link into a content area.

To add a link in the course menu:

  1. Click the plus sign above the course menu and choose Tool Link
    Course menu - Tool link
  2. Enter a name for the link, such as Discussions, and choose Discussion Board from the list of Types
  3. Check the Available to Users box (otherwise your students won't see the link) and click Submit.

To add a link in a content area:

  1. Move to the area of the course where you want to add the link and choose Tools > Discussion Board
    Tools - Discussion Board
  2. Choose whether to link to the whole Discussion Board, or a specific forum and click Next
  3. Check all the details are correct then click Submit.

Blogs, Journals and Wikis

What are blogs, journals and wikis?

  • Blogs allow students to post their work and make comments on each other's work.
  • Journals are intended for individuals and are particularly suitable for reflection.
  • Wikis allow groups of students to work together to create web pages. They are ideal for encouraging collaborative working.

Entries can include text, images, links, attached files and multimedia content. Blackboard has blogs, journals and wikis for the whole course site and for individual groups of students.

"Public" "Private" "Shared"
Course blog - everyone enrolled on the course can post and comment

Course journal - entries visible only to the individual student and tutors

You can choose to make the journal public, for example if you want all students to be able to see entries at the end of a course.

Course wiki - everyone enrolled on the course can create pages and change content on all pages
Individual blog - each person enrolled on the course has their own page, but can also see other people's pages The Course journal is individual. There is no individual wiki.
Group blog - all members of the group can post and comment, members of other groups can see each other's blogs Group journal - all members of a group can post and comment, not visible to other groups Group wiki - all members of the group can create pages and change content on all pages.

To create:

  1. Choose Control Panel > Course Tools and select the appropriate option (Blogs, Journals or Wikis)
  2. Click Create Blog (or Journal or Wiki) at the top of the page.
  3. For more information, see Blackboard's help pages on Blogs, Journals and Wikis.

To give your students access to the blog, journal or wiki, you can either create a link in the course menu or add a link in a content area, as described above for the discussion forums.


VoiceThread can be used for oral (rather than text) discussions. See the VoiceThread page for instructions on how to set up VoiceThread.


Collaborate enables live, online teaching. See the section on Blackboard Collaborate for information on how to use it.


Announcements are useful for broadcasting information such as due dates for assignments or any changes to the course schedule. Students can see announcements in the following ways:

  • My Announcements box on the Blackboard Home page shows announcements for all the course sites you are enrolled on
  • Course site Announcements area, for example on the Home page or a link in the Course menu, depending on how your course site is set up
  • You can choose to email announcements to students automatically
  • The Mobile app shows announcements

It is important to ensure that only relevant announcements are visible, otherwise students will not perceive them as useful. You can create announcements whenever is convenient to you and set date and time restrictions to ensure that students only see announcements at the appropriate time. It is also a good idea to delete any announcements that are no longer required, to avoid staff members seeing a long list of out-of-date announcements.

To create an announcement, choose Course Tools > Announcements and click the Create Announcement button.

For more information, including an explanation of the settings and how to reorder announcements, see Blackboard's Announcements help page.


You can send emails to all the students enrolled on the course site, or just to selected groups of students. Choose Control Panel > Course Tools > Send Email. For more information see Blackboard's Email help page.

Share this page: