SMS Text Service
The Short Messaging Service plugin allows instructors to send email and SMS messages to members of Blackboard courses. Messages can be sent instantaneously, or can be scheduled to be sent at a later time. This scheduling feature is useful for posting reminders for essay deadlines, etc.
The Messaging Service building block features opt-in subscription, so that students and others need only receive messages if they want to. It is, however, possible for instructors to override the subscription feature and send messages to unsubscribed users if they wish.
If your course has not been set up with an SMS account, and you would like it to be, please contact Blackboard Support.
Opening the Messaging Service
Log into a Blackboard course, choose Communications from the menu on the left, and click on Messaging Service. (Instructors may also access the plugin from the course’s control panel, under Course Tools.) What you see next depends on whether you are an instructor or student in the current course.
- Students - Students are offered the option to subscribe to the Messaging Service. A link is provided for this on the page.
- Instructors - If you are an instructor on your course, The Messaging Service link will take you to a page with options for posting messages immediately, or later, via the scheduling calendar. If your course has been set up with an account for sending SMS texts, the option of sending SMS texts will be available, and the funds available for texting will be displayed.
For each course’s SMS account, one course instructor is nominated as the administrator of the SMS account. This administrator will see extra options on the Messaging Service start page, for setting the SMS privileges of the other instructors on the course.
The administrator can also set a password for sending SMS texts, which is specific to that Blackboard course. If a password is set, it should be passed on to other course instructors with SMS privileges to allow them to send SMS texts. Alternatively the password field can be left blank.
As an instructor you also have the option to subscribe to the Messaging Service. A link is provided for this at the bottom of the page. This determines whether you will receive SMS messages and emails posted by the Messaging Service. Subscription applies across all courses, not on a per course basis.
Please note: as an instructor, when you schedule messages to be posted, you will be sent an email report after the posting, irrespective of whether you are subscribed or not.
Send a Message Now
This link opens a page with options to send messages to users selected from:
- All users on course.
- All groups on course.
- All students on course.
- All instructors on course.
When one of these options is selected, a table appears at the bottom of the page, with a list of all users who would be targeted by selected option a, b, c or d. These users can be selected or deselected individually via the checkboxes next to their names.
If sending an SMS message please be aware of the limitations described in the box at the top of the building block page.
Schedule a Message to be Sent Later
This link opens a page with a calendar interface, where messages can be scheduled to be sent in the future.
To create a new scheduled message, click on a date in the calendar interface. A form opens up for you to add the message details.
With scheduled messages, there is no provision to select individual users. However, it is still possible to target: all users, selected groups, all students or all instructors on the course.
It is only possible to schedule messages for the following day and later. In other words, if you wish to send a message in the current day, you must use the Send Message Now option instead of the Schedule a Message to be Sent Later option.
To prevent the possibility of SMS messaging at anti-social times, it is only possible to schedule messages to be sent between 9am and 17.55 pm. To edit a scheduled message, simply click on its title in the calendar interface. A form opens up for you to update the message details. A delete option is also provided should you wish to cancel the posting of the message.
Scheduled messages are only editable for the following day and later. It’s not possible to edit messages for the current day, because the day’s jobs are all collected and readied for posting at 8am in the morning.