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Blackboard Help

Feature Information for Instructors

Assignment Dropbox

The "Assignment" tool in Blackboard Learn should feel familiar in function to anyone who is accustomed to using the "Dropbox" tool in ANGEL.  Each tool offers standard text and file attachment submission from the student perspective, and offers rich Assignment Grading and Assignment File Download options from the instructor perspective. While there is a terminology difference between ANGEL and Blackboard Learn on this tool, the functionality and usage should emulate one another pretty closely.  One key addition that is available with Blackboard Learn Assignments is "SafeAssign", a plagiarism detection component available to assignments.


While both LMS applications contain a calendar functionality that ties into both the course and overall institution levels of the environment, Blackboard Learn has just received a fresh upgrade to Calendar functionality as of Service Pack 10.  The new Blackboard Learn Course Calendar is a modern calendar that offers a great deal of additional features over the ANGEL Calendar and was created to be familiar to users of other modern, popular calendar tools such as Microsoft Outlook.  Feature for feature, we believe the new Blackboard Learn Calendar compares favorably to the ANGEL Calendar tool and should offer a full improvement in calendar capabilities.

To learn more, see Introduction to the New Blackboard Learn Calendar - Video.


The grading functionality is an essentially piece to course functionality within any LMS application.  ANGEL and Blackboard Learn each have feature rich grading tools which allow for course personalization to adhere to custom grading schemas, weighted grade categories and many other adaptable features to fit the course grading setup.  The grading tool in ANGEL is called the "Gradebook", whereas the same feature in Blackboard Learn is called the "Grade Center".  The Grade Center in Blackboard Learn offers many of the same features that are available in the ANGEL Gradebook, along with some very important feature improvements, such as Grade Exemptions.

Groups / Teams

Courses in each system offer a function to group students into "Groups" in Blackboard Learn, or "Teams" in ANGEL.  While there is a terminology difference between the two tools, the functionality should feel relatively familiar. In Blackboard Learn, you can set up groups to participate in shared content such as Group-only Discussions, Blogs, and other content/tools through the Course Group Tools Menu.  You can also configure assignments to be released per a group set up so that if there are group-specific assignment topics that outcome is possible. 

Mail Tools

Both ANGEL and Blackboard Learn offer tools that allow users to communicate with one another in via email/messages- though the functionalities differ significantly between the two applications.  ANGEL has a single mail tool, called CourseMail, which allows internal email to be sent to other users of the application.  These messages can be forwarded to an external email if preferred, but cannot be sent directly to an external email account, such as campus email, Gmail, and so on. 

Blackboard Learn contains an Email tool that can only be used to send messages to external email addresses.  These messages are delivered to the email associated with the recipient's account in the system, but cannot be viewed from within Blackboard directly.  Blackboard Learn also contains a Course Messages Tool, and Messages are intended to fill that functionality of having an internal application only tool for sending messages back and forther between users of a shared course enrollment.

Parent/Observer Accounts

While the ANGEL LMS had a built in tool called Mentor Accounts (Insight Window) designed for parent access, Blackboard Learn leverages Observer Accounts to provide view-only access to courses and content for parents or academic advisors.  Managing Observer accounts allows parents to maintain their own login in Learn, and utilizes the same full interface that students see in their courses.  Observer accounts and their association with students can be created via batch and integration tools.

To learn more about creating these accounts in batch, see SIS Integration and Observer Association Elements in Feed File.


Each LMS application offers a feature rich test-taking tool, and while the terminology differs slightly between ANGEL and Learn 9.1, the functionalities are similar and should lend themselves to an easy transition.  "Assessment" is the ANGEL term and "Test" is the Learn 9.1 term.  Each tool offers a broad list of potential question types, as well as in-depth functionalities for grading, randomization, and question pools.

To learn more, see Tests, Surveys, and Pools.