Blackboard Learn: Email vs. Messages in Your Course

By Rita Knoblock, CLEAR Faculty Help Desk Manager

Did you know there are two ways to send mail to your students in Learn? Use Messages if you wish to keep all of your correspondence with students inside the course. Use Email if you want to send email to students’ EagleConnect accounts and receive mail back from them in your Exchange account on Outlook.

Blackboard Learn offers options for both Email and Messages inside your course. If you choose not to use one of these tools or not to make it available to your students, make sure that you adjust this accordingly under Tools Availability in the Customization area of your course. Whichever tool the instructor chooses to use they will want to list the information in the Syllabus for their students. 

Below you will find specific information about both tools. Basically Email sends new email alerts, is sent to your Email account outside of Blackboard Learn (Outlook, gmail, etc.) and recipients of each email will not see the email addresses of other recipients. With Messages you cannot receive messages outside your course and you are not notified if you receive a new message. The Messages tool in Blackboard Learn is similar to the Email tool that you may have used in Blackboard Vista.


  1. The Email tool allows you to send email to other people in your course from within Blackboard Learn without launching an external email client, such as Gmail or Yahoo.
  2. Emails can be sent to individual users or to groups of users. A copy of this email is sent to the sender by default.
  3. Since Instructors are required to keep student content for 1 year, you may wish to create separate folders in your email by course and term (ART 1010.001 Fall 2011). The course name/number will be automatically entered at the beginning of the Subject line in Outlook along with whatever you enter as the subject.
  4. Email address is set to whatever customer has set in AMS as their preferred email address (UNT email address by default). This is to address FERPA concerns about sending information to a non-verified email address.

 IMPORTANT!  Blackboard Learn keeps no record of sent or received emails. When you receive or send an email, the email will appear in the Inbox of your external email client. Keep a copy of important messages in case you need them at a later date

Before You Begin

  • Blackboard Learn will NOT recognize files or email addresses with spaces or special characters, such as #, &, %, and $. In general, use only alphanumeric file names and addresses in Blackboard Learn.
  • Do not send email through Blackboard Learn without content in the subject line. Leaving the subject line blank can prevent the message from being delivered.


  • Your email address is not visible unless you choose to make it visible to course members. Find this setting in the page header at: My Places > Personal Information > Set Privacy Options. From this page, you can choose the information you want course members to see.
  • You can change your external email address used in your course. Change your email address by going to My Places > Personal Information > Edit Personal Information. Type your preferred email address and click Submit.
  • Email clients, such as Gmail or Yahoo, may identify email from Blackboard Learn as junk mail and either automatically delete the email or move it to a junk mail folder. If you have problems, check your user preferences or options for settings regarding the handling of junk email.


  1. The instructor can choose to enable or disable it in their course.
  2. You cannot receive messages outside your course and you are not notified if you receive a new message, so make routine checks for new messages.

Note:  Your instructor controls which tools are available. If this tool is not available, your instructor may have disabled it.

The Blackboard Learn Messages tool provides you with a familiar, email-like environment that you can use for course communication. The Messages tool in Blackboard Learn is similar to the Email tool that you may have used in Blackboard Vista. Accounts are automatically created for each member of the course, and messages are sent and received using that account. This provides additional privacy because external email addresses are not used, so external factors will not affect course communication.

Messages are usually accessed through the tools area of a course. However, your instructor can restrict access or create a link on the Course Menu so that messages are directly accessible.

Feel free to contact the CLEAR Faculty Help Desk if you have any questions. We are open Monday–Thursday 8am–9pm, Friday 8am – 5pm and Saturday 11am – 3pm. You can contact us by phone at 940-369-7394 or by emailing us at We are also available for walk-ins at 112C Chilton Hall Monday – Friday if needed.