Using Blackboard to Communicate

Consistent and clear communication is directly correlated with student success. Regardless of the course level, students may have little or no background in higher education expectations or using Blackboard. Communication from a faculty member can mitigate that inexperience or confusion. Communication from student to faculty leads to even more clarity and better student experience.

Luckily, there are many convenient ways to use Blackboard to communicate with students. The four tool options are Announcements, Messages, Email through Blackboard (Classic-style only), and Class Conversations (Ultra-style only).

Of the tools listed here, Announcements is the only one which will be visible to all users for the duration of the course, regardless of when someone enrolls or joins. Messages, Email through Blackboard (Classic-style only), and Class Conversations (Ultra-style only) are only visible to the recipients chosen at the time of sending.

Depending on the sender’s choices and the recipient’s notification settings, Announcements and Messages will appear as alerts and notifications rapidly informing users of the information.

Note: most of these features require your course to be open (available).


If you have questions, please contact the Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning via email ( or phone (313-578-0580).

Suggestions for Use

  • One of the first things to do when a Blackboard course is open is to send an announcement informing all users of the availability of the course and syllabus.
  • Faculty use Announcements to notify students of upcoming assignments, clarify instructions, or communicate changes to the class schedule. 
  • An excellent way to keep students engaged, particularly in an online course, is to post a weekly Announcement that summarizes the previous week's activity ("In last week's discussion a few people brought up some interesting points ...") and sets expectations for the upcoming week ("Pay particular attention to ...").
  • With Messages, users can contact each other to schedule study meetings, ask the instructor questions about content or clarify assignments, etc.

The Tools


  • Announcements are an effective way to communicate with all your students via single message. This is particularly true of courses that require students visit Blackboard regularly. New announcements appear when a student first visits the course site, regardless of course style or when students enroll/join. Old announcements are collected on an Announcements page, which is the default home page for classic-style course sites.


  • The Messages tool is available in both classic- and ultra-style Blackboard course sites. It is more prominently placed in ultra-style course sites, where it replaces the classic-style Send Email tool.
  • Bb Messages are intended to be used much like email, but the messages stay within Bb, so going to email is not necessary. Faculty can message one, a few, or all users in a course. 
  • Note: If you post a message to "everyone" and someone adds to your course later, they won't get that message. A message to "everyone" is a message to everyone enrolled in the course at that time. 

Email through Blackboard:

  • Email through Blackboard is ONLY available in classic-style courses.
  • Blackboard emails allow you to send an email without opening your email client (like Outlook) and then adding recipient email addresses. If the person is enrolled in your course, you can simply send them an email through the course. The recipient/s will receive the email in their Detroit Mercy Outlook email inbox. Replies are sent like a normal email through the Detroit Mercy Outlook inbox.
  • Note: If you send an email to “all users” and someone adds to your course later, they won't get those emails. An email to "everyone" is a message to everyone enrolled in the course at that time.

Class Conversations:

  • Class Conversations are ONLY available in ultra-style course sites, as an option that must be selected on a Document, Test, or Assignment options page.
  • Class Conversations allow all members of a course to post and view discussion-style messages related to a specific document, test, or assignment in an ultra-style course site. This tool essentially creates a discussion forum tied to that item which can be accessed from the item page.