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

Journals are a personal space for students to communicate privately with you. Students can also use journals as a self-reflective tool to post their opinions, ideas, and concerns about the course, or discuss and analyze course-related materials. You can create journal assignments that are broad and student-directed as your students reflect on the learning process and document changes in their perceptions and attitudes. Students can describe problems faced and how they solved them. You can also create instructor-directed journal entries that are more formal in nature and that narrow the focus by listing topics for discussion.

How to use journals

Journals are ideal for individual projects. For example, in a creative writing course, the owner of each journal creates entries and an instructor comments. In this manner, a student can refine a section of a writing assignment over a period of time, using an instructor's guidance and suggestions. A student can also comment on his or her entries to continue the conversation.

You can choose to make journal entries public, allowing all course members to view all entries. For example, you may choose to make a journal public when asking for opinions on how to improve the evaluation process. Students can read what other students wrote and build upon those ideas.

When used in the group area, members of a group can view and comment on each other's entries for the group journal. The group, as a whole, can communicate with you and all members benefit from the comments.

You can grade journal entries or use them solely for communication. In either instance, a student can make multiple entries for one journal topic.

Create a journal

You can create one or more journals for your students to use in your course. You must create journal topics before students can add their entries.

  1. Go to Control Panel > Course Tools > Journals and select Create Journal.
  2. Type a name and optional instructions. Make the journal available to students.
  3. Select the Display After and Display Until check boxes to enable the date and time selections. Display restrictions do not affect the journal availability, only when it appears.
  4. In the Journal Settings section, select Monthly or Weekly Index Entries. If desired, you may select check boxes to allow users to edit and delete entries, or delete comments.
    • Optionally, select the check box to Permit Course Users to View Journal. If selected, the journal becomes public. All users can view all journal entries made to the journal topic.
  5. In the Grade Settings section, select No grading or the Grade option and type the number of Points possible. Points possible will apply to one or more entries made by a user to the journal topic. After you enable grading, a column is created automatically in the Grade Center. It is permanently gradable, and you can't change the setting to No grading.

    More on grading journal entries

  6. If desired, select the check box for Show participants in needs grading status and select the number of entries required. Applying this setting will show the Needs Grading icon in the Grade Center and place the entries in the queue on the Needs Grading page after student activity meets this threshold.
  7. Add a rubric if you want.
  8. Select Submit.

The journal topics appear in alphabetical order on the Journals listing page. You can sort columns by selecting the column title. To learn more, see Journal Topic Page.

You can also add links to journals in course areas, such as content areas and folders.

Create journal entries

You and your students can create journal entries. You are the only one who can comment on students' private entries. You and group members can comment on group entries. On the Journals listing page, information is provided about each journal. Students can see if their entries are private—between the student and you—or public.

  1. On the Journals listing page, select a journal title.
  2. On the journal's topic page, select Create Journal Entry.
  3. Type a title and entry.
  4. Optionally, browse for a file to attach.
  5. Select Post Entry to submit the journal entry or select Save Entry as Draft to add the entry later.

Watch a video about creating journals

Take a look at the video below to learn more about creating journal entries for your class.

Video: How to create journal entries

View journal drafts

To view or add to saved drafts, select View Drafts on the Journals listing page.

Comment on a journal entry

Journaling can be essential for interaction between you and your students, especially in a web-based course. Student entries and your comments can help build rapport and create a healthy intellectual exchange.

A student can make a comment after you comment on an entry to continue the conversation. Students cannot make comments on another student’s journal entry, even if you made the journal public. Students can only comment on another student’s entry when they are members of the same group. For group journals, you and all group members are allowed to make comments on individual entries.

  1. On the Journals listing page, select a journal title.
  2. Select the journal entry to view by selecting the user’s name in the list in the sidebar. The user's journal entry opens in the content frame.
  3. Select Comment below the user’s entry and type a comment.
  4. Select Add.
  5. To view all comments, select the numbered Comments link.

Edit and manage journals

You can edit basic properties of a journal topic, including the name, instructions, availability, and some settings. You can also edit any user's journal entries, and delete journal topics and comments.

On the Journals page, access a journal's menu and select Edit. Make your changes and select Submit.

Delete a journal

If you no longer need a journal, you can delete it. Deleting a journal is permanent.

  1. On the Journals listing page, access a journal's menu and select Delete.
  2. Select OK in the pop-up warning. If the journal is gradable, the Delete Confirmation page appears and you are asked if you want to delete the Grade Column associated with this journal:
    • Do not select check boxes: The journal is deleted, but the Grade Center column and scores you've assigned are retained. For example, all student entries are graded and you want to keep the Grade Center column for the final grade calculations. If you retain the Grade Center column, you can delete that column from the Grade Center at any time.
    • Select the check boxes: The grade column in the Grade Center and the journal are deleted. For example, if you do not want to include the grade column for the journal entries in the final grade, you can safely delete all.
  3. Select Remove to complete the deletion.

Add a journals link to the course menu

You can add a link to the course menu for immediate access to the journals tool. You can also customize the name of the link.

  1. Select 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 list, select Journals.
  4. Select the Available to Users check box.
  5. Select Submit.

Troubleshoot journal management

Event Result
You delete a journal while users are posting. The journal and all comments are deleted.
You make journal unavailable while users are posting. The journal remains visible to you in Edit Mode, but doesn't appear to users.
You change the Allow Users to Edit and Delete Entries setting. Entries remain, but users cannot edit them.
You change the Allow Users to Delete Comments setting. Comments remain, but users cannot delete them.
You enable journal grading. You cannot change this setting. You can delete the journal and the Grade Center column to remove it. If you need the journal entries, but not the grades, you can decide to not include the Grade Center column for the journal in grade calculations.