Blackboard Terminology



.lnk File

This is a link, or shortcut, to a file and cannot be opened by an instructor. It is often submitted because one navigates to a Recent Documents folder to attach a file. An example: MyAssignment.lnk when the correct file should be MyAssignment.docx or MyAssignment.rtf

.lnk files should not be submitted.


Announcements are used by an instructor to post important messages to an entire class at one time. These are available to students through the My Announcements modules on the Institution and Course Dashboards, and in the Announcements tool. Announcements may also be delivered via email if the instructor elects to do so.


The dashboard is a tool that provides a summarized view of course activity through the use of modules. There is an institution dashboard (the My GWU Blackboard page), which is the first point of entry for Blackboard, and a course dashboard, which is commonly the home page for a course.


A discussion, also called a forum, is an asynchronous "posting" of an electronic message by a member of a class. Asynchronous means that class members do not have to be active on the discussion board at the same time; postings can take place at any time regardless of when another member of the class is posting or replying.


Email is a feature in Blackboard that facilitates communications between an instructor and students. The Email tool allows one to send email to students and instructors in your course without accessing an external mail client, such as Outlook or Gmail. The Email feature, as used by Gardner-Webb, will deliver email messages to your GWU inbox, available at A copy of the email is sent to the sender's inbox by default. Note: the Blackboard system does not keep a record of sent or received emails.


Forum is another term for a discussion topic. A forum allows for communications between a course instructor and the students. Instructors can create a forum and have students respond to the instructor and each other by posting and replying to messages.

Help Desk

The Blackboard 24x7 Help Desk through Sungard provides students and instructors with assistance through phone and web-access (chat and submitted ticket).


LEAP, or the Learning Enrichment Assistance Program, is a university support service that facilitates personal development and academic success within the student body. LEAP is expanding its reach to include limited tutoring for Blackboard and is able to assist with clarifying the concepts covered in the student user tutorials.


Messages are a communication feature used by instructors and students to send private messages in a course. Messages are similar to email but are text-based and are internal to a course. They are available through the Messages tool. There is not a notification feature to let one know he has messages.


A module is a section of content that appears on the My GWU Blackboard (institution) and course dashboards. A module may display a user's announcements, courses, calendar, to do list, and alerts, to name a few.

My Grades

My Grades is a tool that enables students to view the status of submitted work, such as tests, assignments, and discussions. Detailed information about gradable items is available here, such as due dates, student dates of activity, posted grades, points possible, linked rubrics, and instructor feedback.


A plug-in is a software component or application that enables other software programs to work more efficiently and accurately. Most commonly, plug-ins are used in conjunction with Web browsers to open forms, videos, and documents. For example, when one finds a form on the Web that is in PDF format, a plug-in called "Acrobat Reader" is needed to allow the computer's browser to open the form. Or, to play a video from a Web site, a plug-in such as Adobe Flash Player, Windows Media Player, or QuickTime may be needed.

Plug-ins are usually available on the Web as free downloads.



A thread is simply a posting on a discussion board or forum, made by an instructor or a student. A threaded discussion is a series of messages about the same topic or subject. In a threaded view, the original message will be listed first followed by replies to that message. In an unthreaded view, messages are listed in chronological order.