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There are several ways to communicate with your course, you can send them a message through Portal, you can do the same through Blackboard, or you can set up a contact list with your students’ names, and email them through your Gmail account.
Instructors can message students, TAs, and other instructors enrolled in their Blackboard course. This tool, unlike the Portal tool allows instructors to contact any user enrolled in their course in any way (alternate and informal students as well!).
To send an email to your course,sign in to Blackboard, access the course you would like to message, and follow the instructions below:
Portal contains an email tool, with which you can message a specific course. It is the most rigid one, in that you will not message anyone enrolled in an alternate or informal role in your course.
Creating a Google Contact List for your class takes a little bit more work than the others, but has the most applications. With the Contact List, you can share Google documents and calendars with your students as well. However, after setting up the list, using it is as simple as entering the list name into the To: form in a Gmail message.
Instructions on setting the list up can be found on the How to Create a Google Distribution List for your Class Knowledge Base Article.