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Topic Overview

Social Learn in Blackboard has been enabled as of December 2013. It is an "add on" to the existing functionality of Blackboard at Syracuse University and does not replace any of the already existing functionality in your courses. The platform connects users to one another for purposes of collaboration and networking. This network connects users at Blackboard Learn institutions around the globe and provides them with the tools to learn from each other through social, informal means – complementing the more formal classroom and online course experiences. This page is dedicated to popular questions and topics regarding its use.

Important: The system is an "opt in" experience meaning users do not have to set up a profile or make themselves available in the Social Learn system. Additionally, you can participate yet control your level of participation.

How do I access the Social Learn platform?

After logging into Blackboard, you will see your username in the top right-hand corner above the link for "Blackboard Known Issues". Click here to expose a list of your courses and along the left hand side are links to the Social Learn Tools. The first link is a silhouette which opens the Social Learn interface in full screen. You can access all the tools and edit your profile including uploading a picture or avatar and setting your personal privacy options. Click on the images below to enlarge them.

Social Learn tools MenuPrivacy Options

What are the different Profile privacy settings?

The different Profile privacy settings include the following:

  • All Blackboard Users– Anyone with a Blackboard profile can find and message me. This includes Blackboard Learn users at other schools.
    • Note: With this privacy option, the user can choose whether or not to require others to request permission to follow them.
  • My Institution– Anyone from my institution can find and message me.
    • Note: With this privacy option, the user can choose whether or not to require others to request permission to follow them.
  • Private – Anyone in my courses, organizations, and spaces can find and message me.  Everyone must request permission to follow me.
  • Hidden – No one can view, message, or follow me.  I cannot view, message, or follow others.  I choose not to participate in social learning spaces.

If I participate does that mean I will get messages from users at other Blackboard institutions?

No. Your "visibility" is set at the individual user level. You can find this setting in your profile. See the graphic above this question.

Can a user block someone from viewing their Profile?

Yes, if a user feels uncomfortable with someone seeing their Profile or interacting with them, they can simply click Block on that user’s Profile or Profile Card.

Who has access to the global learning network?

Only people who have a user account on a Blackboard Learn instance that has Social Profiles & Tools enabled.  There is no access for people without Blackboard Learn accounts, as other platforms are not currently supported and the global learning network is not open to the “public.”

I see that I can connect my Twitter and my Facebook accounts to Blackboard Social. What gets shared?

The tool enables you to copy your twitter picture and description from twitter and brings it into Blackboard Social Learn. BSL will NOT BE ABLE to follow new people, update your profile, post tweets for you, access direct messages or see your twitter password.

Facebook integration allows you to copy your Facebook picture, description and Facebook email to BSL. Blackboard will receive your public profile, friend list email address and personal description.

Remember, you control all of this.

How do I look for people in Blackboard Social Learn?

You can search for people who have made their profile publicly available by going to the People/Learning Network icon  and entering their first or last name. 

What is the difference between groups, organizations and spaces

The Groups tool is a tool for instructors to define and manage groups of students within an individual course and it replicates the richness of existing course tools (for example, blogs, wikis, journals, discussions, and so on) for group assignments. 

An Organization is a full-featured collaboration area outside of courses that replicates the rich capabilities of the course environment and is best suited for standing clubs, groups, committees, organizations, and so on. 

Spaces Spaces Icon are lighter-weight communication and collaboration areas outside of courses, which can be created ad-hoc by users and are best suited for purposes of informal learning (for example, study groups), affinity or interest groups, and community-building.  Most importantly, Spaces can include people from different institutions from across the global learning network so it provides a mean for cross-institution communication and community-building not offered by other Blackboard Learn features. 

All three tools will remain available in Blackboard Learn, as they address different scenarios and different user needs

What's the difference between messages and posts in Social Learn?

Messages can be sent directly to any user(s) that are publicly available in the system. Posts can be shared on your public wall for anyone to see.

Can the social learning tools be turned off during tests?

No, social learning tools cannot be turned off during tests. Blackboard firmly believes that such a capability would provide a false sense of security, as students have many avenues through which they could contact each other besides Blackboard’s social learning features.  Rather than provide a capability to disable access during exams, which would offer no effective protection against cheating, we encourage institutions to address this academic integrity concern through other means (improved assessments, proctoring, and so on).

Sources and Relevant Links

Social Learning Tools FAQ at Blackboard