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Blackboard Help


This information applies only to the Original Course View. Your institution controls which tools are available.

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

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

Open chat

You can access chat by going to Course Tools > Collaboration in the Control Panel of your course. To let others find chat quickly and easily, you may also add a link to the course menu.

Add a collaboration link to the course menu

You can add a link to the course menu for immediate 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 menu appears.
  2. Select Tool Link and type a name for the link.
  3. From the Type menu, select Collaboration.
  4. Select the Available to Users check box.
  5. Select Submit.

The new tool link appears last in the course menu list. Select and drag the arrows icon to move the link into a new position. You can use the individual link's menu to rename, delete, or hide the link from students.

Add a chat link in a course area

You can 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. Point to Tools and select Chat.
  3. On the Create Link: Chat page, select the type of link. You may also link to a specific chat session or create a new chat session at this time.
  4. Select 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. Select Submit.

Create a chat session

You can create chat sessions:

  • For the duration of the course: The chat session is available when the course is available. Students can schedule meetings and use the session at any time.
  • At a specific time: The chat session begins and ends at the dates and times you specify. Student attendance at these sessions may be mandatory.
  • To group members only: The chat session is only available to members of a certain group. Students in the group can schedule sessions to discuss projects, divide up tasks, and brainstorm.

Use the following steps to create a chat session:

  1. You have two ways to access the chat tool:
    • On the course menu, select Tools > Collaboration.
    • On the Control Panel, select Course Tools > Collaboration.
  2. On the Collaboration Sessions page, select Create Collaboration Session.
  3. Type a Session Name.
  4. Select the Display After and Display Until check boxes to enable the date and time selections. Display restrictions don't affect the session availability, only when it appears.
  5. Make the session available.
  6. In the Collaboration Tool section, select Chat from the menu.
  7. Select Submit.

Join a chat session

On the Collaboration Sessions page, select the Session Name to join the session.

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

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

  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 (select the hand icon) to request permission to send messages. If more than one user raises their hands, numbers are assigned to the hand 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 select Send. Alternatively, you can select the compose icon to open a new window, allowing for an larger area for typing.

Send a private message

You can send private messages to other users if this feature is enabled. Private messages aren't 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.” Select View 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, select the participant’s name.
    • You can send a private message to more than one participant. If you're using Windows, select multiple users in a row by pressing the Shift key and selecting the first and last names. To select users out of sequence, press the Ctrl key and select each name needed. If you're using a Mac, press the Command key instead of the Ctrl key.
  2. Select Private Message.
  3. In the Compose Private Message pop-up window, type your message.
  4. Select Send.

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're 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 the student is dominating the conversation or responding inappropriately.

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

Manage chat sessions

  • 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're recording the session, the recording is also ended. You can no longer add bookmarks to the recording.