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Communicating with Students in Blackboard

Questions with their answers

What is an Announcement?

Blackboard Announcements are an ideal way to post timely information critical to course success such as assignment due dates, exam schedules, changes to the syllabus, and other corrections or clarifications of materials.

You can add, edit, and delete announcements from the Announcements page. When you add an announcement, you can also send it as an email to everyone in your course, so students receive the announcement even if they don't log into your course.

  1. Click Announcements in the Course Menu.
  2. Select Create Announcement.
  3. In the Subject box, type a subject for your message, which appears as the announcement's title on the Announcements page.
  4. In the Message box, type the body of your message.
  5. Optionally, in the Web Announcements Options section, you can restrict the announcement by date:
    • If you choose Not Date Restricted, the announcement is visible until you remove it.
    • If you choose Date Restricted, select the Display After and Display Until check boxes to enable the date and time selections.
  6. Optionally, select the Email Announcement check box to send an email with the announcement to all course members, including students, instructors, and teaching assistants.
    • Note: This option doesn't work if you chose to post the announcement in the future. You'll receive an error and need to clear the email announcement check box.
  7. Optionally, in the Course Link section, select Browse to link to a course area, tool, or item.
    • Note: A course link won't appear in the emailed announcement if you choose to send one, only on the Announcements page.
  8. Select Submit to finish.

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Can I send an email to my class through Blackboard?

Email can be sent to all course users as well as to specific users or groups. Messages are delivered to recipients' GW email addresses (

To send an email: 

  1. Under Control Panel, click Course Tools.
  2. Click Send Email.
  3. Click on a recipient category from the list provided, such as All Users.
  4. Enter a Subject and Message.
  5. You can attach a file if necessary.
  6. Click Submit. A copy of the message will be sent to your GW email inbox.

Additional Resources:

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How do I start an online discussion?

To begin using the asynchronous discussion board tool:

  1. Under Control Panel, click Course Tools.
  2. Click on Discussion Board.
  3. Click the link with the course CRN and year (e.g., 12345_YYYY01)
  4. Click Create Forum.

​Learn more about creating Blackboard Discussions.

Additional Resources:

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Can I hold virtual office hours or an online class session?

You can provide a real-time, virtual classroom environment for your students using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. Sessions can be hosted, recorded, and made available to students right in your Blackboard course.

To create a Collaborate Ultra session:

  1. Under Control Panel, click Course Tools.
  2. Click Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.
  3. Click Create Session.
  4. Choose your start and end dates and times.
  5. Click Save.

Learn more about Blackboard Collaborate Ultra for moderators.

Additionally, the web conferencing tool Zoom is available to the GW community and can be integrated into Blackboard courses allowing course members to join live sessions from Blackboard seamlessly.

Additional Resources:

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Are blogs and wikis available to my students?

Yes, to begin setting up a Blackboard Blog or Blackboard Wiki, you can:

  1. In a Content Area (Menu Item) of your choosing, hover over the Tools button.
  2. Choose Blogs or Wikis.
  3. Enter a Name and complete any other relevant information on the page.
  4. Click Submit to finish.

Learn more about interacting with your students in Blackboard.

Additional Resources:

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Can I put my students into project groups?

Yes, you can create student groups one at a time or in sets.

You can enroll students in groups in three ways. Students cannot unenroll themselves from groups.

  • Manual Enroll allows you to assign each student in your course to a group.
  • Random Enroll automatically distributes students into groups based on your settings for maximum members per group or the total number of groups.
  • Self-Enroll allows students to add themselves to a group with a sign-up sheet.

To create Groups:

  1. Under Control Panel, click Users and Groups.
  2. Click Groups.
  3. Click Create and choose your enrollment method.
  4. Then, based on the enrollment option you chose, select the group options.
  5. Submit when finished.

Learn more about creating student groups in Blackboard.

Additional Resources:

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Why am I not receiving emails sent from Blackboard?

You likely have more than one email address at GW: 

  • (student email)
  • (faculty/staff email)

If you hold a staff or faculty position but are also taking courses as a student, you actually have two separate email accounts, a staff/faculty account (, and a student account ( When determining GW email routing, your staff/faculty email domain takes precedence over the student email domain. So when someone sends an email to, as Blackboard does, it will be sent to your staff email account and not your student one.

You will use the same UserID and password to log in to your student and staff/faculty accounts. If you want emails sent from Blackboard to go to your student account, you must set up email forwarding. You can contact the Division of IT for assistance with this at 202-994-4948.

Learn more about how email routing is determined? (Note: You may need to log in to view this content.)

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Allowing Third-party cookies

If you receive an error in Blackboard or cannot access videos or tools like Collaborate Ultra, Echo360, or VoiceThread, you may need to configure your browser's cookie settings to allow third-party cookies. It is best to restart your computer after updating any settings.

To unblock or allow third-party cookies in your browser, follow the browser-specific steps below:

Also, check that you are using a supported browser for the tool you are using:

Contact the Instructional Technology Lab for assistance.

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More FAQs