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Blackboard Help


The chat tool allows you to interact with other users using a text-based chat. Chat is part of the virtual classroom. You can also access it separately.

Use the chat tool when real-time discussion is required. Most students are comfortable with using some form of chat.

The chat tool was designed to be ideal for low bandwidth situations, such as when your students are connecting to your course using a dial-up connection.

Access Chat

You can access chat in the collaboration tool from the Tools link on the course menu and from the Control Panel. You may also add a link to the course menu.

How to Add a Collaboration Link to the Course Menu

You can add a link to the course menu for one-click access to the chat tool. You can also customize the name of the link.

  1. Change Edit Mode to ON and point to the plus sign above the course menu. The Add Menu Item drop-down list appears.
  2. Click Tool Link.
  3. Type a Name for the link.
  4. From the Type drop-down list, click Collaboration.
  5. Select the Available to Users check box.
  6. Click Submit.

The new tool link appears last in the course menu list. Press and drag the arrows icon to move the link into a new position. Access the link's contextual menu to rename, delete, or hide the link from students.

How to Add a Chat Link in a Course Area

You can manually add links to chat in course areas, such as a content area or folder.

For example, you set up a content area to include all the content and tools your students need for the week. After reading the weekly lecture, viewing a slide presentation, and completing two assignments, students then access the chat tool for the mandatory weekly session. Finally, they complete the weekly test, accomplishing all of these tasks in the same content area.

  1. Change Edit Mode to ON and access the course area where you want to add a chat link.
  2. On the action bar, point to Tools and click Chat.
  3. On the Create Link: Chat page, select the type of link. Also, you may link to a specific chat session or create a new chat session at this time.
  4. Click Next.
  5. On the next Create Link: Chat page, complete the Link Information to specify how it will appear in the content area. Select the options, if you want to change them.
  6. Click Submit.

How to Create a Chat Session

You can create chat sessions:

  • For the duration of the course: Students can schedule meetings and use the session at any time.
  • At a specific time: Student attendance at these sessions may be mandatory.
  • To group members only: Students in a group can schedule sessions to discuss projects, divide up tasks, and brainstorm.

Use the following steps to create a chat session:

  1. On the course menu, click the Tools link. On the Tools page, click Collaboration.


    On the Control Panel, expand the Course Tools section and click Collaboration.

  2. On the Collaboration Sessions page, click Create Collaboration Session on the action bar.
  3. On the Create Collaboration Session page, type a Session Name.
  4. Select the Display After and Display Until check boxes to enable the date and time selections. Display restrictions do not affect the session availability, only when it appears.
  5. Make the session available.
  6. in the Collaboration Tool section, select Chat from the drop-down list.
  7. Click Submit.

Join a Chat Session

On the Collaboration Sessions page, click the Session Name.

A Launching Chat Tool page appears. Do not leave this page until you are finished chatting. The chat session opens in a new browser window and may take a moment to load.

Chat will not work if pop-up blockers are enabled. Either turn off your pop-up blocker or make your course site a trusted site.

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  1. A list of participants and their roles appear in the first column.
    • The chat session moderator is represented by a globe icon. The moderator is typically the instructor. The moderator can modify participant roles, grant passive users permission to participate, expel users, and record and end the session.
    • Active users are represented by a full color icon. An active user is typically a student. By default, active users can send messages as often as they want during a chat session.
    • Passive users are represented by a gray toned icon. A passive user also is typically a student, but might be a guest or observer. Passive users can observe the chat exchange, but must raise their hands (click on the hand icon) to request permission to send messages. If more than one user raises their hands, numbers are assigned to the handraise icons to represent the order they raised their hands.
  2. The title of the chat room appears at the top of the chat display panel.
  3. All messages appear in the chat display panel.
  4. Type your message in the Compose box and click Send. Alternatively, you can click the compose icon to open a new window, allowing for an larger area for typing.

How to Send a Private Message

You can send private messages to other users if this feature is enabled. Private messages are not recorded or archived.

Private messages can appear with all your other messages in the chat display panel, or you can choose to display them in a separate panel. Private messages are always preceded by “Private Message from.” Click View on the action bar and choose where private messages will appear.

Only users who have an active role can send private messages.

  1. On the Participant list, select the recipient or recipients of your private message.
    • To send a private message to a single participant, double-click the participant’s name.
    • For Windows, to select multiple users in a row, press the Shift key and click the first and last names. To select users out of sequence, press the Ctrl key and click each name needed. For Macs, press the Command key instead of the Ctrl key.
  2. Click Private Message.
  3. In the Compose Private Message pop-up window, type your message.
  4. Click Send.

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How to Modify Participant Roles

By default, participants are designated as active users when they enter a chat session. At any time, you can change the role to passive. Passive users can view the chat exchange, but can only contribute if they raise their hands and are granted permission by the moderator.

You control chat sessions to a greater degree when users are passive. For example, if each student must first ask for permission to participate, you are less likely to have a whole series of questions to respond to at once. You can also make a certain user passive if you feel he is dominating the conversation or responding inappropriately.

  1. On the Participants list, click the name of a user.
  2. Click an icon to activate or deactivate a user's permission to chat. The icon in the Participants list is updated.

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Manage Chat Sessions

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  • View: Choose where to display private messages.
  • Controls: Select which features each role can use. By default, only active users can send messages and private messages.
  • Clear: Clear your chat panel or the chat panel of all session participants.
  • End: Stop a session. The session is ended and all users are dismissed. If you are recording the session, the recording is also ended, and it is no longer possible to add bookmarks to the recording.