Messages are a useful way to keep in contact with your students and make their educational experience more personalized. There are also access points all over Ultra for you to directly act upon information by sending messages to students. For example, you can message a student directly from an assessment’s Student Activity page if they submitted the assessment late.

You and your students can send messages to each other, multiple people, or an entire class. Messages activity remains inside the system, and you don't have to worry about email addresses that may be incorrect or outdated.

Your institution controls your options for messages within Learn and can turn off messages completely. Some institutions allow you to make decisions about messages at the course level. If your institution allows messages to be controlled at the course level, you can adjust message settings by going to your Course Settings. You can set the following limits on messages within your course:

  • Students can message anyone in their course 
  • Students can only message staff and students in their groups 
  • Students can only message staff 
  • Students can only reply to messages 
  • Turn all messages off, which sends all messages by email only

Topics on this page include:

This information also applies to organizations.

Messages for all courses

As an instructor, you can quickly send messages to all students about important deadlines and schedule changes.

Image of the base navigation of Learn, with the Messages page highlighted and several course cards to the right, each showing a number of unread messages

Don't miss any action. If you have a mix of Original and Ultra courses, you can access messages for both on this page. Unread messages are indicated with a number within a red circle and appear first.

Jump into your messages. Select a course card to view all new and existing messages in your course. You can delete messages inside of your course.

Ready to share? Select the New Message  icon beside your course on the Courses page to send a message to one person, multiple people, group, or a class. In the Ultra Course View, begin typing and recipient names pop up. In the Original Course View, select To. A list of all course members appears. In the first box, select the recipients and select the right-pointing arrow to move them to the Recipients box.

Unread message notifications

An identifiable number count highlights any new messages received. When you select the Messages page on the base navigation, a red number count changes to a red pill icon to reduce distraction. When you navigate away from this page, the system now displays the unread message count again. Courses with unread messages appear first in the list of the Messages page.

Messages inside a course

In a course, select the Messages page. The number of unread messages that you have is indicated within a red circle. All your course messages and responses are on the Messages page. You can easily review the entire list and open a message to read all the responses.

Your unread messages appear first in the list and have a red circle next to the sender's name. Each message displays the profile picture of the sender. Under the sender's name, you can view how many participants are included or if the message is for the whole class.

Image of the Messages page within a course, with a closeup of a message thread

A. Send a message. Select the New Message button to send a message. Send to one person, multiple people, group, or the entire class.

B. Select how many messages per page. If you have many messages, you can increase how many messages display on one page.

C. Delete a message. Use the Delete button to delete a message. If more responses come in, you'll get them. You can't edit or delete individual responses in a message.

D. Navigate to another message. Messages open in a panel with all the responses. Use the View Previous Messages and Next Message buttons at the top to view the previous or next message in the list.

E. Add more people. When you create or respond to a message, select the Add Participants button to add additional people unless the message was sent to the entire class. The original recipients see a note in the next message that you added new people or the whole class. The new recipients see the message from the point they were added.

F. Follow a conversation. Messages are threaded. When you select anywhere within a message, the panel for that message displays every sent and received message within that conversation. On your course's Messages page, the most recent message in a thread is what's displayed. Your own messages are indicated with a (You) that appears by your name.

Read-only course messages for students

Each institution has different communication preferences and policies. Some institutions may want to limit how students communicate with others in their courses. Your institution can choose not to allow students to reply to or create messages in their courses. Only the student role has these restrictions. You can't turn this setting on and off in your individual courses.

When this setting is turned on, students can only read the messages other roles send, such as instructors and teaching assistants. Students also won't be able to forward messages they receive.

Instructor workflow

When course messages are read-only for students, you're alerted when you create a message. The Allow replies to this message  check box applies to the roles in the course allowed to reply to and create messages, such as other instructors and teaching assistants.

Image of the New Message window, showing the checkbox for allowing students to reply to the message

Student workflow

In the read-only state, the plus sign to add a message is removed from the students’ global Messages page and the course Messages page.

When students view an individual course message, they see a message in the Reply box that states: Replying is disabled for this message.

Image of a message from an instructor that says "Replying is disabled for this message" in the text box

Send a message

Select the New Message button on the Messages page to open the New Message panel.

Overview of a new message, with an expansion of the Recipient field

Start typing to add recipients. As you type, matching recipient names appear in a menu for easy selection. You can continue to add as many names as you want or send to the whole class.

Lead with the most important info. Messages don't have titles. Recipients need to rely on the first part of your message as they choose what to read.

In the editor, select the plus icon to view the menu of options. You'll find the option to attach a file. To use your keyboard to jump to the editor toolbar, press ALT + F10. On a Mac, press Fn + ALT + F10. Use the arrow keys to select an option, such as a bulleted list.

Send an email copy. You can send an email copy of a course message. Students may be more likely to see, read, and act on course messages when they receive a copy in their inboxes. Email copies are only delivered if recipients have valid email addresses in their Learn profiles. When you select this option, all recipients of the message receive an email copy. Recipients can view your message in their email inboxes, but won't be able to send an email to reply.

Add styles and include attachments. The text box allows you to adjust the appearance of the text in your messages. You can also choose to attach a file or embed a link to other media within your message, if your institution has enabled the option.

Watch a video about Messages

The following narrated video provides a visual and auditory representation of some of the information included on this page. For a detailed description of what is portrayed in the video, open the video on YouTube, navigate to More actions, and select Open transcript.

Video: Messages in Blackboard Learn shows you how to view and send course messages.