Bb 9.1 is a great way to communicate with your students in multiple formats. You may use any combination of these and can customize them so they disappear if you won’t be using them. The CTL will be posting videos illustrating the various systems described here. Bb Help for Instructors is also a good resource to help you get started.
Messages is Bb 9.1’s internal e-mail messaging system. Each message stays within the Bb 9.1 course site (you must be inside your course to see messages from that course’s students). Bb Help for Instructors has more information on Messages in Bb 9.1.
Bb 9.1 also has an E-mail system that works with the RDC E-mail. From within Blackboard you can e-mail students (or students e-mail you) directly to their/your RDC E-mail address. You can e-mail your entire class at once, a group of students within your class, or a single student. When posting an Announcement, you also have the option of sending that announcement out as an e-mail. BB Help has more to get you started with E-mail in Bb 9.1.
Discussion Boards allow students to interact collaboratively through Bb 9.1. You can post a Discussion Topic (a forum) and students can then post threads in response to your forum or replies to their classmates’ posts. You can set this up so it shows the students’ names or so the posts are anonymous. There is great flexibility in this on 9.1 and it is a great tool for teaching. Bb Help for Instructors has more information on Discussion Boards.
Create a Discussion Board forum (video).