Interact with Students
Announcements are an ideal way to post time-sensitive information critical to course success. Add announcements for these types of course activities:
- Due dates for assignments and projects
- Changes to your syllabus
- Corrections/clarifications of materials
- Exam schedules
You can add, edit, and delete announcements from the page. When you add an announcement, you can also send it as an email to students in your course. Students receive the announcement even if they don't log into your course.
See the Announcements Blackboard help article for more information.
Benefits of Reflective Learning
Students can use a journal or blog to collect observations, thoughts, concerns, notes, progress, and opinions that may not be shared otherwise. Writing can build rapport between instructors and students, contributing to a positive learning experience.
As stated in an online article in Educause Quarterly, "Reflective learning can aid learners in synthesizing new information, and it is often used to improve reading comprehension, writing performance, and self-esteem via self-examination."1
In the educational environment, journals and blogs need to be more than just a list of what a student did. The writing experience is used to communicate the thinking process: the how and why for each activity and thoughts about the activity at its conclusion.
The University of Worcester distributes a study skills advice sheet listing the benefits of reflective learning, which states: "Reflective learners are more likely to develop a deeper understanding of their subject and to achieve higher grades as a result."2
Reflective learners share these characteristics:
They are motivated and know what they are trying to achieve and why.
They are proactive in extending their understanding of new topics and subjects.
They use their existing knowledge to help develop their understanding of new ideas.
They understand new concepts by relating them to their previous experiences.
They understand that additional research and reading improves their understanding.
They develop their learning and thinking by building on the critical evaluation of their previous learning experiences.
They are self-aware-able to identify, explain, and address their strengths and weaknesses.
1Phipps, Jonnie Jill. "E-Journaling: Achieving Interactive Education Online." Educause Quarterly. 28.1 (2005): n.pag. Web. 18 Nov. 2009.
2Learning Journals. University of Worcester, Aug. 2007. Web. 18 Nov. 2009.
Effective Discussion Questions
The quality of the first post in a thread influences the thought level of subsequent postings. A carefully worded discussion question is perhaps the most important factor in using discussions to satisfy your learning objectives.
See the Effective Discussion Questions Blackboard help article for more information.
Interactive Tools in Action
To build a successful online community, students need the tools to interact and have conversations. Through conversation, we learn about each other, ourselves, the topic, how to get along, and make group decisions. Though time and geography limit some of our conversations, the power of the connection using varied conversation technologies build community.
Students report that their satisfaction with online courses relates to instructor presence and the collaboration and sense of community they experience. In a successful online learning community, students support one another and help each other accomplish what they might not have on their own. When the students interact and direct their efforts toward a common goal, collaboration exists.
Blackboard Learn offers four communication tools for self-reflection, collaboration, and communication. The discussion board and journals allow you to provide rich assignments and evaluate students in authentic ways where students can share and create knowledge.
See the Interactive Tools in Action Blackboard help article for more information.
Blackboard Collaborate is a powerful all-in-one platform that offers you an immersive human experience through your computer, tablet, or mobile device anywhere, anytime. A fully interactive web conferencing environment and asynchronous voice authoring capabilities allow for greater engagement so that you're not missing a thing.
You can use a robust tool set that allows you to web conference and connect with one student or your entire class. You and your students can collaborate using audio, video, and recording capabilities. You can also use private and public chat, a whiteboard, application sharing, a clip art library, and add and edit content at any time.
With Blackboard Collaborate, you aren't just replicating the face-to-face experience, you're adding a personal touch to online collaboration.
See the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra webpage for more information.
What if your students have questions about some of the course content? If you enable class conversations for individual content items, students can discuss the content with you and their classmates. They can ask for help, share sources, or answer questions others have. As the conversation develops, it appears only with the relevant content. Conversations don't appear on the discussions page.
You can enable conversations for these content items:
- Group assignments
- Group tests
- Offline submissions
- Links to teaching tools
See the Conversations help article for more information.
Online discussions provide unique benefits. Because students can take time to ponder before they post ideas, you may see more thoughtful conversations. You can observe as students demonstrate their grasp of the material and correct misconceptions. You can extend your office hours and reach students more often during the week so that learning is continuous.
A sense of community among students is crucial for a successful online experience. With online discussions, course members can replicate the robust discussions that take place in the traditional classroom.
For smaller course groups, you can also offer group discussions where only members of the group may access the discussion.
See the Discussions help article for information on creating, managing, grading and responding to discussions.
The email tool allows you to send email to other people in your course without launching a separate email program, such as your UND Outlook account. You can send email to individual users or to groups of users. See the Email help article for more information.
Group work improves critical thinking, problem solving, adaptability, and communication.
You can create groups of students within your courses so they can interact with each other and demonstrate their knowledge.
Research has shown students can benefit from group work in several ways:
- Students retain information longer than with other teaching methods.
- Perspectives from group members offer another opportunity to learn new material.
- Students have a positive feeling about the course material.
- Students who establish good relationships with their peers have a more positive learning experience.
- Successful group work leads to students feeling better about themselves.
- Students increase their social and communication skills.
- Students increase their critical thinking skills.
Source: "44 Benefits of Collaborative Learning." gdrc.org n.d. Web. 3 Jan. 2020.
See the Groups help article for information on creating and managing groups.
Journals are personal spaces for students to communicate privately with you. Students can also use journals as a self-reflective tool. They can post their opinions, ideas, and concerns about the course, or discuss and analyze course-related materials.
You can create journal assignments that are broad and student-directed. Students can reflect on the learning process and document changes in their perceptions and attitudes. Students can describe the problems faced and how they solved them. You can also create instructor-directed journal entries that are more formal in nature. You can narrow the focus with a list of topics for discussion.
- Students may make unlimited entries
- Students and instructors can decide the number of items that appear per page
- Instructors have a count of graded journals
See the Journals help article for information on creating and grading Journals.
You and your students can send messages to each other, multiple people, or an entire class. Messages activity remains inside the system, and you don't have to worry about email addresses that may be incorrect or outdated.
As an instructor, you can quickly send messages to all students about important deadlines and schedule changes.
Don't miss any action. The most recent messages for each course appear first. If you have a mix of Original and Ultra courses, you can access messages for both on this page. New messages appear in a bold font.
Access messages across time. You can view messages for current, previous, and future courses. Use the arrows to navigate to another time period. For example, view messages from past courses that you want to reuse.
Jump into your messages. Select a course card to view all new and existing messages in your course. You can delete messages inside of your course.
Organizations behave like courses and contain tools that enable group members to communicate efficiently. You can post information, have discussions, and share documents.
Organizations can help broaden the scope of an institution's reach across subjects, time periods, and more. Groups that might use organizations include academic departments, study groups, and extra-curricular activities.
See the Organizations help article for more information.
Record Audio and Video Feedback
You can include a recording of your feedback so it appears with any text you've added for a student. Add feedback wherever you start grading.
Use the Roster link on the Course Content page to view your class list, connect with your students, and match faces to names. You can also send messages to anyone involved with your course.
Users can upload a picture of themselves on their Profile pages. If they don't add pictures, a generic silhouette appears in the roster. Users' profile pictures also appear in the gradebook, groups, discussions, conversations, and messages next to their activity. Your profile picture also appears on the Course Content page.
See the Roster Blackboard help page for more information.