If you are teaching online or hybrid, it will be helpful for you to master the email, announcements, chat, and tracking tools in Blackboard. These tools will help you to manage the online environment. Read about Online Classroom Management in this PDF Article.

Helpful Tools in Blackboard

See the BlackBoard tutorials section of our website for tutorials on these tools and much more.


The email tool in Blackboard will allow you to email the entire class or an individual from within your course. Emails sent through BlackBoard Learn will route to students’ PNC student email.


The discussions tool allows you to create asynchronous communication forums with all students, or just certain members of the class if you use the Groups functionality built into BlackBoard. While discussions can certainly be used for many academic purposes, they can also be useful in providing an open place for students to post questions and other concerns about the course materials. When students use the discussion forum rather than email to ask questions, others benefit from the answers provided since it is an openly visible forum to the whole class. You can also use the Subscription feature of discussions to ensure you are immediately notified of that all new messages posted.


This is a great way to remind students of upcoming deadlines or even other important happenings. You can choose to have them “pop-up” when a student logs into your course, making it an effective way to capture their attention and get your message delivered. In the online environment, it is essential to stay connected and make sure students are staying on task.

Tracking and Retention Center

The tracking and Retention Center tools allow you to “track” how often each of your students are navigating within your course. They also allow you to see exactly what areas of the course they have accessed the most/least, and notify students of performance concerns.

Purdue Passnote

Help your students through well-formatted feedback – Purdue Passnote. Passnote is designed to help instructors write messages to students based on research in student performance and effective feedback. Passnote is designed to help students understand your comments clearly by giving them specific steps toward improvement, as well as providing them with meaningful praise when they are doing well.


This tool allows you to enter all of the assignments, activities, quizzes, etc., and associated due dates for your students. You may decide to use this tool in Blackboard to help keep your students informed. However, many instructors still prefer to create their own course calendar as a word file or PDF and make it available in Blackboard, rather than using the calendar tool. This is a matter of preference. Just remember, keeping it simple, is usually a good idea.