Blackboard is the course management system used at American University. Blackboard requires a separate login, but the user name and password should be the same as what you use to login to the portal.

Blackboard can be found on the portal. Click the Blackboard link and enter your username and password. You can also login through

Contact the OIT Help Desk at (202) 885-2550 if you need help with passwords. Or you can request your password by clicking "forgot your password?" at

Sending Email Through Blackboard:

Send Email allows users direct access to course participants and can also be accessed from the Tools box on the My Institution area.

  1. Open a course that you are participating in
  2. Select Course Tools from the Control Panel menu and select Send Email
  3. Choose which group of people you would like to email

Users can access email functions for specific courses through the Send Email page. From this page users can send email to the following people in a course:

  • Fellow classmates

  • Instructors

  • Teaching Assistants

  • Groups within a course

The following groups are available to send email to from the Send email page:

  • All Users: Sends email to all users in the course or organizations

  • All Groups: Sends email to all of the groups in a specified course or organization

  • All Teaching Assistants: Sends email to all of the Teaching Assistants in a specified course

  • All Instructors: Sends email to all of the instructors for a specified course

  • Select Users: Sends email to a single user or select users in a specified course.

  • Select Groups: Send email to a single group or select groups in a course

Once you have selected a group, type your email as would would normally and click Submit to send the email. You can also attach documents.

Note: When you send email in Blackboard, the system will send you a copy of the email, but it will not specify which individuals it was sent to (e.g. "Sent to SIS-000-001-2010F). If you would like to save a sent receipt that includes who the email was sent to, hit Print Screen when the sent confirmation appears, right after you hit Submit.

How to participate in a Discussion Group

Now that many people have an instant messenger, a blog and email, people are sometimes unsure about good rules of conduct for academic discussion groups as compared to other forums. To help these students, and those who have never used a discussion group, we've brought together some suggestions for posting in Blackboard discussion groups.

For good results with your messages, keep the following in mind:

  • Read any prompts carefully. A prompt is the assignment to which you are responding. In some cases, the prompt will be posted as the start of a thread in the discussion forum. In others, the prompt will be listed under "Assignments." In either case, read the prompt carefully. Make sure that you understand everything that it requires before you start to respond. If you have questions, ask for a clarification from your instructor, or at least let others know what you are unsure about in your posting.

  • Post something that shows thought. One of the great things about discussion forum communication is that you can think before you respond. Discussion forum prompts are almost always open-ended questions, so even if it seems that the assignment only needs a short answer, assume that you should provide some explanation or narrative about that answer. The challenge is to do this without getting too long-winded!

  • Include examples and supportive arguments, not just opinions. Discussion forums are not just a place to put opinions and feelings. You should also include specific examples, statistics, quotes, and other support materials. On the other hand, you are encouraged to include your opinions too. These will make all of the details more interesting!

  • Cite your sources. It's OK if you borrow ideas from your readings or conversations, but you should attribute these ideas to their source. You can give the official citation of reading material (online or in print) or simply attribute ideas from your classmates. For instance, "In her posting, Shelly said ... That made me wonder about ..."

  • Post your response early in the assignment period. If you wait until the assignment due date, others will not have a chance to respond to what you have said. Your instructor will not have as much time to notice or think about your posting, and a lower score may result. Post your first message early in the assignment period, then return later and respond to others. You'll get more out of the experience and get a better grade.

Responding to Posts

It's called a discussion forum because people are actually supposed to discuss ideas! Clever, huh? That means it will only be useful if you respond to others, not just post your own messages. You will not get the best results or grades from this kind of communication if you don't react to your classmates.

To respond to a message, simply enter the appropriate forum, then click on the subject of a message. Read the message, and if you want to respond, scroll to the bottom and click "Reply." Type your message and "Submit." Here are more hints:

  • Don't agree with everything. "Good idea!," "I agree," or "I think the same thing" are not worthwhile responses. They don't add to the conversation. If you do agree with the poster, then try to add another example or clarify the point more. It's OK to have a different opinion. On the other hand...

  • Don't disagree with everything. You won't impress anyone by being critical of every posting that is made. Try to be generous in interpreting others. Ask clarifying questions if you are not sure you understand.

  • Search for balanced replies. When you respond to others, try to include both positives and negatives about what they have said. Tell them what you like about their ideas or compliment their intentions. Then let them know what part of their response they should consider giving more thought or looking at again.

  • Replies should be useful. A good reply will give everyone following along more to think about. If it is critical, the critique will be specific, clear, and point toward possible improvements. Often, asking more questions is the best sort of reply. A good reply will encourage the poster to respond again. Hopefully, they will look forward to more interactions with you in the future.

  • Attack arguments, but don't attack people. Don't get personal in a discussion forum. At the worst, be generous and assume that it is the person's idea that you don't like, not the person. Ad hominem attacks (against the person) will lose friends and participation points for you. So will racist, sexist, ageist, and other bigoted comments. So will profanity and obscenity. Let's stay civil!

  • If you encounter difficulties or the argument gets too hot, let your instructor know. Your instructor will be checking the forum regularly, but may miss a critical posting. If someone posts something that upsets you, talk to your instructor about it. In some cases, your instructor might help clear up misunderstandings, or if necessary, delete an offensive message from the discourse.

How to Submit an Assignment

When you are working on assignments or tests that will be graded, first make sure that you are using Firefox as your web browser.

  • Find where your assignment is located on your Blackboard site, and click the name of the assignment.

  • On the next page, you will see a space for submitting your assignment materials. You can either copy and paste your information into the text box or you can attach a file (like an e mail).Note: If you attach a file, you have the option to rename the link to the file so your professor knows exactly who submitted the assignment just by clicking on the link.

After you have proofread and attached your documents, you next need to submit your assignment.There are two buttons options. Save as Draft only saves your submission. It does not submit your assignment, and your professor will not be able to grade it. When you have completed the assignment, you must click Submit and the assignment will be entered into the Gradebook for your professor to review.

Remember: If you do not click Submit, your professor will not see your assignment! The Blackboard office has no way of telling when you Saved the assignment, only when you Submitted it.