Topic Overview

Both the Messages and Email tools can be used to communicate with students and instructors in a Blackboard course. The information below describes the differences between the Messages tool and the Email tool.


The Messages tool allows students and instructors to communicate by sending and receiving messages within Blackboard only. Users can send private messages to instructors, teaching assistants or peers. Because the tool remains in Blackboard, users must log in to check messages. Users can also save drafts of messages, and there is an inbox and sent box.

Clearing Unread Messages

Students with unread message in courses that no longer available cannot enter old courses to clear the unread message count. ITS has confirmed with Blackboard that this is a known issue under development — it will be addressed in a future release.

Instructors can only clear unread messages by locating them in the message navigation and then entering the course to mark them as unread. The indication that a course contains unread messages is subtle—it is a line of text underneath the Course Name and Course ID. 

Users who are sent messages will receive notification that they have new messages from Messages area of the main Blackboard Ultra Navigation. Users can manage their notification settings to include course messages and set preferences.

Send Messages

  1. Under Course Tools, click on Messages.
  2. Click Create Message.

    Screenshot of user interface.

  3. Select the Recipients to receive the message.
  4. Enter the Subject, then type your content and attach a file if needed.
  5. Click Submit.

Read Messages

There are an Inbox and Sent Folder that will archive your messages, and show you when new messages arrive. New messages are also displayed from the "Messages" area of the main navigation menu.


The email tool sends messages to Blackboard users’ email accounts. Because the emails are outside the Blackboard domain, the message is not stored in the course. Users can read and reply to messages using their Syracuse University email account. From a Blackboard course, email cannot be sent to a person who is not enrolled in the course. In Blackboard, the email tool offers options for sending communications to different groups.

Send Emails

  1. Under Course Tools, click on Send Email.
  2. Select the recipients of the email.
  3. Type your subject and message.
  4. Click Submit.
  5. A copy of the email will be sent to the sender.

Read Emails

To read emails sent from peers or instructors from a Blackboard course, access your Syracuse University email account.

Sources and Relevant Links

Sending Email From Your Course