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The Journals tool offers students the opportunity to reflect on course content and communicate privately with you.  You can use the tool to gauge understanding and guide students in their knowledge acquisition. Your journal comments can help students refine their writing and ideas.

You create the journal topics for individual students to use. Then students submit journal entries in response to the topic and you can comment on the individual entries. As the journal topic is created, you determine if the journal entries will be graded. Students are allowed to create multiple entries for an individual journal topic, whether it is graded or not.

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. Students cannot comment on other students' entries; only the instructor can add comments.

The Group Journal tool functions differently, as it allows all members of a group to view all group journal entries. A group journal has no journal topics, but is instead created by the journal entries submitted by group members. A group journal can be edited to add instructions for the members. Both you and group members can add comments. 

Source: https://help.blackboard.com/en-us/Learn/9.1_SP_12_and_SP_13/Instructor/060_Course_Tools/Journals​

Blackboard Tipsheets on Journals

Creating a Journal

Editing and Managing Journal Entries

Grading a Journal

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