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Blackboard Communication Tools


Course Calendar




About Announcements

Users and Course Group members can view important messages from Instructors in the My Announcements module. Announcements are organized and displayed by:

  • system
  • course
  • view all Course announcements

Announcements are available through the Tool Module (panel) on the Institution Tab and inside a Course in the My Announcements module.

Create an Announcement

Start in the Announcements area of your course site or go to Control Panel > Course Tools > Announcements.  Select Create Announcement.

Enter a subject and message, set your display options, and add a course link if desired. Instructors also can choose to email a copy of the announcement to students. Click Submit

Course Calendar

About the Course Calendar

Instructors can use the Course Calendar to indicate important Course related events. The dates and events that appear on the Calendar are for all users in the Course.

Some typical items Instructors may include in the Course Calendar are:

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

There is a calendar module on the home page.  This defaults to displaying the next 7 days of events.   

You can also add a button for a new content area displaying the full calendar.

To Create a New Button or Content Area for the Calendar

  1. Go to the "+" in the top left and select Create Tool Link
  2. Enter a name for your button/content area, and select Calendar for type.
  3. Be sure to check Available to users and Submit.


Sending Email

To send an email through Blackboard go to Control Panel > Course Tools > Send Email.

If you have a Send Email button in your Course Menu, you can also just click on Send Email.

In the Send Email Menu select the category of users you want to email. You can also choose Select Users to send mail to specific individuals in the course site.

Please note that the email function in Blackboard does not have an inbox or outbox so there is no record of any correspondence sent through it. However, as the sender you will always receive a copy of your email. If you also check the box for Return Receipt you will receive a copy of the message with a list of the recipients at the top.

Once an email has been sent, a green bar will appear at the top of your Blackboard screen confirming who the email was sent to.


Limiting Use of Email for Students

If you are concerned about having students sending non-course related emails to one another (advertisements for events, spam, etc.) you can partially or fully disable this tool.

To disable email entirely: go to Control Panel > Tools > Send Email and click on the Hide Link button next to it. As the course instructor you can still email the class but students will not be able to access this tool for their own use.

To limit email to course instructors and TAs go to Control Panel > Customization > Tool Availability and click on the double down arrows under Email and select Email Settings. Then check off the boxes for All Instructor Users and All Teaching Assistant Users. Students will then only be able to contact instructors and TAs via Blackboard email.


Changing an Email Address

The email address listed for a Blackboard user can only be changed by that person by updating their record in the Penn Directory. Changes made in the Personal Information section of Blackboard are overwritten each morning by the address on file in the Penn Directory.

If you want to change the email address associated with your Blackboard account go to the Penn Directory:

Log into the "My Profile" section;

Press the light blue "edit" button next to your email address;

Add your preferred email address if it is not already there;

Check the corresponding box in the "Display in My Details?" field;

Then select the corresponding dot for the "Display as My Search Result?" field;

Press "Submit" and your email address will be updated in Blackboard the next morning.


While Blackboard includes a virtual classroom and chat tool among its features, these tools have recurring problems that impede their use. The most frequent problem is that the chat window will load, but the user is unable to send messages because the "sent" button is grayed out.

We have been investigating this issue, but have not been able to isolate the cause and there is no workaround that can resolve this error. Due to the inconsistent behavior of these tools, we do not consider them to be fully supported and would caution instructors not to rely on them for scheduled class use.

Some schools subscribe to other programs with virtual classroom or chat capabilities, so instructors interested in using virtual collaboration tools should contact their Local Support Providers for further assistance.