So Long Blackboard IM

blackboard IM interfaceLesley University has been using Blackboard IM (BBIM) since 2012. It served us well as a collaboration and communication tool for students, faculty and staff when there were few options available to us. However, it’s now time to say so long.

While BBIM has not technically been discontinued by Blackboard, it has not received updates or improvements in several years. For the last two years, we have been pointing faculty and students to other options such as Skype for Business and Collaborate Ultra. Collaborate Ultra is integrated into all myLesley courses and Skype for Business is available via your Lesley Office 365 account. Both tools have modern, easy-to-use interfaces and mobile capabilities. They can also be accessed with the same Lesley accounts that you already have. There’s no need to create a separate login and password as you did with BBIM.

For these reasons, we say BBIM….

After the upgrade, you may still continue to use your existing BB IM, but you will not be able to create new accounts and we will no longer be supporting it. If you need assistance switching to Skype for Business or Collaborate Ultra, email


Blackboard IM: A Brief Survey of One Lesley Professor’s Experience


Dr. Paul Naso, an assistant professor in the PhD in Educational Studies Program at Lesley GSOE, has adopted Blackboard Instant Messaging for a variety of communication tasks.  Below is a list of some small steps he and his students have taken during recent semesters:

In his online course Critical Contexts for the Principalship:

  • Office hours, by appointment meetings, and occasional unscheduled meetings with students
  • Use of audio, video and text message functionality
  • All students were Bb IM users and approximately 75% of students used Bb IM frequently for within-cohort interactions, in pairs or small groups

As part of the online component of Adult Learning and Development Semester IV:

  • Office hours, by appointment text chat
  • Audio chat with students to get individual feedback on plans for how they would approach their assignments

In the Educational Leadership PhD specialization:

  • Unscheduled, student-initiated text chats to
    • Check-in about program requirements, program schedules
    • Request suggestions for research topic literature
    • Schedule appointments

Through his use of Blackboard IM so far, Paul has observed that as the numbers of his students using the tool increases, the more uses for it become evident.

If you would like to learn more about Blackboard IM please review the help documentation on the eLIS website.


Attending Your Residency Virtually

Toni Czekanski from the Center for Reading Recovery had a student who was due to have a baby and would not be able to attend residency in Cambridge. Students in residency spent time in small groups of three or four people analyzing and discussing videos of each other’s teaching before separating to work on individual tasks. Toni wanted to find a way for the student to participate in the group work that went beyond listening in on a conference call all day. She decided to give Blackboard IM (BB IM) a try.

Toni placed the student in a group that was already using online tools like YouTube or Vimeo to share their videos and asked each of them to install BB IM. The students viewed each others’ videos using the Web Tour feature and then held a discussion about their observations using the Skype-like audio and video group call functionality. They could also add quick comments or questions for the person speaking via the text-based chat without having to interrupt them or forget their comment. The Screen Sharing feature allowed them to share other documents on their computers.

During residency instructors could use BB IM to follow up with the distant student. After residency, they could also meet with all of their students online and the students could continue to work together in their groups.



Blackboard IM Part II and Voice Tools Workshop Alert

Lesley University has a new collaboration tool called Blackboard Instant Messenger (BB IM). BB IM combines Skype’s audio and video call capability with some light webinar tools that allow students and faculty to easily work together online.

eLIS will be hosting a workshop by a Collaborate trainer to introduce you to BB IM. The workshop has two parts. Both are fully online so you can access them from anywhere with a decent internet connection.

Part 2: Collaborating with BB IM  will take place on Wednesday, October 31 from 1-3pm ET


Blackboard Collaborate Voice Authoring is a sophisticated yet simple way of giving your online classes a voice. Perfect for language learning or creating vocal exercises in any subject, voice authoring facilitates and promotes vocal instruction, collaboration, coaching, and assessment. Learn how to increase the interaction and student engagement level of any online class by embedding vocal interactions into the page level of your Course Management System (CMS). 
 In this workshop, participants will explore features like import and export audio; learn to manage the all of the voice authoring tools from the CMS, or simply save time by reusing vocal content for the next course.

To register for either workshop click here.

Additional workshop offerings can be found on our Professional Development calendar.


Virtual Office Hours

How do you hold office hours for an online course? Sam Smiley uses Blackboard IM (BB IM). BB IM combines the ability to easily communicate via text, audio and video as in Skype with some web conferencing features such as whiteboards and screen sharing that allow faculty and students to collaborate online as they might in person.

In January 2012, Sam introduced BB IM to her Internship Seminar students. She then posted her Office Hours schedule in her myLesley course. Each Monday night, Sam would log into BB IM and field questions from students. Some were simple questions that could be handled with a quick text message and the student was on his or her way. Audio or video calls worked great for questions that required a bit more explanation or finesse that might not come across in text. The whiteboard tool allowed her Creative Arts and Learning students to share and annotate images while the desktop and website sharing tools allowed Sam to demonstrate processes or answer questions as she might in the face-to-face classroom using the projector or physical whiteboard.

It took a little time for Sam to build interest with her students, but by the end of the course her students were beginning to regularly check in. It worked so well that she is using BB IM with her current courses. As her students work on group projects, they can also use BB IM to collaborate on the fly without Sam needing to set up a space for them to do so.

Give BB IM a try!

Learn more about BB IM Office Hours.