Since we have transitioned to the new version of Blackboard the ability to email announcements has been missing. This is due to the fact that this process is now part of a larger notification system. The notification system is set up to send email notifications as a digest of the activity happening in your course throughout the day. In addition the notifications will also show up in specific modules that are part of the new Blackboard Home Page (a.k.a: Notification Dashboard). You and your students will be able to get information regarding events such as submission & grading of assignments, numbers of unread posts for each discussion forum, and when particular aspects of course work are past due. Information about how all of this works is attached to this post. The Notifications will be turned on starting May 31 and be set to deliver the notifications in the form of a daily digest (meaning you should get a notice delivered once a day email with all the activity for the day).
If you have eliminated the Home Page itself from your Blackboard site never fear you can still use the course modules that you find the most useful by adding the module as link on the main menu or a link to one in your course site. Please let us know if you need assistance with this.
I have written about browser issues before but I feel like I need to say it again. Mozilla Firefox is a better choice to use with this version of Blackboard than ever before. The Grade Center will load faster, the repeated autorization request will not be an issue and over all the performance of Firefox is better including the latest version (link to download is in the top line).
In addition the issue with student emails has continued. There is a resolution to the problem coming. In the mean time as I have written previously there is an alternative tool in Blackboard that would alleviate the issue until the new student email resolution has been implemented. The tool is the Message and I am attaching directions for its use to this posting.
Please let me know it you have any questions.
I know in the past that we have encouraged the use of Microsoft Internet Explorer for use with Blackboard however it seems that with this particular version of Blackboard another choice may be better. There have been multiple complaints about several issues, the first being speed (especially with the Grade Center), and access to attached materials. The alternative choice is Mozilla Firefox 3.6 or 3.5, this seems to run Blackboard faster and the access to attached materials is less problematic. I have attached here the most recent version of the Supported Browser and Opeating system documentation.
In addition I wanted to let you know about a tool in Blackboard that you may find useful as a means of communicating with your students. I have had more than a few calls about the student email not functioning as it should (there is a solution in the works). If the student email is giving your students issues there is a tool in Blackboard called Messages that will allow you to send your students message (individually or as a group). Messages are not something that is dependent on email the messages just stay in the course itself. The best comparison is that it's like having a message box for each student directly in the course. There is one draw back to using this tool is that there is no notification that there are new messages to be read, no red flag or bold font or anything else as an indicator. If you decide to use this tool as an alternative I would suggest that you create a button for it on your menu (Tool Link).
Attachment(s): Supported Browsers, Plugins & Operating Systems for Blackboard Learn Release.pdf