A Journal is a tool for self-reflection. A course can have several different Journals, used for different purposes (e.g. one Journal for field experience reflections and another Journal for reading responses). Only the student and the instructor are able to comment on Journal entries. Journals may be kept private between the student and instructor, or made public by the instructor so that all enrolled users can read all posted Journal entries. Group Journal entries can also be created and can be read by all group members and the instructor.

Creating Journals in Blackboard

  1. In your Course Management control panel, click Course Tools to open the tools menu.
  2. Click on Journals.
    Image of the Course Tools menu
  3. Click the Create Journal button found at the top left of the Journals page.
    Create Journal Button
  4. In the Journal Information section, type in a name for your Journal in the Name field. You can add instructions for your Journal, if you wish.
  5. In the Journal Availability section, students will not be able to see the Journal unless the Journal Availability button is set to ‘Yes’.
  6. In the Journal Date and Time Restrictions section, you can select specific dates for the Journal to display by completing the Display After and/or Display Until fields.
  7. In the Journal Settings section, you can create settings for how you want the Journal to be organized: You can allow users to edit or delete entries and comments. If you select the Permit Course Users to View Journal box, you will allow all students in the course to view one another’s Journal entries. If you leave it unchecked, only the student who created the entry and the Instructor will be able to view it.
  8. In the Grade Settings, if you select Grade for the Journal, you will need to enter the number of points possible, and a grade column will automatically be created in the Grade Center.  You can also decide if you want to use a Rubric to score the Journal.  (More information about using Rubrics.)
  9. Click on the Submit button.

NOTE: The Journal you have created is not deployed in your course yet, so students may not be able to access it. To deploy this Journal in your course, follow the instructions below to add a link to Journals in your Course Menu, or to add a Journal into a content area in your course.

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Adding a Journals Link to Your Course Menu

Following these instructions, you can add a link to the Journals page into your Course Menu. This will allow students to access all the Journals that you have created, from a central location.

  1. Click on the + icon from the Add Links toolbar at the top of your Course Menu.
  2. Select Tool Link from the drop-down menu.
    Image of the Add Links tool bar and menu
  3. Type a name for the Journal, such as ‘Course Journal’, in the Name field.
  4. Select Journals from the Type field drop-down menu.
  5. Check the Available to Users box.
  6. Click Submit.
    Image of Add Tool Link dialogue box

Adding a Journal into a Content Area

Using this method, you can place a link to a specific Journal into a content area in your course, or create a link to the Journals page so that students can see all of the available Journals.

  1. Go to your Course Menu and select the content area (e.g. Course Documents) into which you want to add the Journal.
  2. Click on the Tools button and select Journal from the drop-down menu.
    Tools area
  3. Select whether you want to link to the Journal Page (all course Journals are displayed on this page), or a link to a specific Journal. Any Journals that you have created for this course will be displayed in the Link to a Journal combo box and you may select the specific Journal you’d like to link:
    Image of Create Journal Link page
  4. Once you have made your selections, click Next.
  5. A second Create Link: Journal page will now open. By default, the name of the Journal to which you linked will automatically populate the Link Name field. You can accept this name or type in a new name.
  6. Under Options you may determine when this Journal link will become available to students.By default, the link will be immediately available and not have any date restrictions.
  7. Click the Submit  button. The Journal link will now appear as the last item in the content area it was linked to. You can drag and drop it to any position within that content area.
    Image of a Journal link inside a content area

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Posting to a Journal

Once a Journal has been created and linked into the course, students can begin posting entries. Instructors can also create Journal entries (but they will not be able to be seen by students unless Permit Course Users to View Journal has been selected in the Journal’s settings. To begin posting entries, a student or instructor should open the Journal:
Image of Journal creation page

  1. Click the Create Journal Entry button to begin a new Journal entry. Entries are made using a standard rich text box, images can be embedded, and files may also be uploaded and attached to Journal entries.
  2. Clicking your name will open a menu where all available and visible Journals can be used. Instructors can use this area to see all student Journals (the number of entries will appear in parenthesis next to each students’ name) and students may use this if Journals are set up so that all users can view all Journals.
  3. Each Journal’s entries will be indexed in this collapsible menu, for reference.


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Commenting on a Journal Entry

Instructors can create comments to Journal entries but students cannot make comments on another user’s Journal entry, even if the Journal has been made public.  Users can only comment on another user’s entry when they are members of a group and the Journal has been set up as a group Journal. For group Journals, all group members and their instructor are allowed to make comments on individual entries.

  1. Click and navigate to the Journal you wish to comment in.
  2. Click on the Comment button in the lower right corner of the Journal post.
    Comment on Journal button
  3. Type a comment in the Comment box.
  4. Click Add.
    Add Comment button

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Grading Journals Overview

You can grade participation in both individual and group Journals. Please see the Journals article for more information on creating and using the Journals tool.

After setting up or editing the settings of a Journal to enable grading, a column is created automatically in the Grade Center. You may access each student’s Journal in order to grade it either from the Journals course tool, or from the Grade Center. Grades and comments are assigned within the Journal and automatically populate into the Grade Center.

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How to Grade Journal Entries

Journals are not graded by individual entry but rather as a whole, single assignment. Each graded Journal will create only one Grade Center column and only one grade. You can begin the grading process for Journals from the Grade Center, the Needs Grading page, or the Journal Course Tool located in the Control Panel. When using the default settings when setting up a graded Journal, any new Journal entries will create a Needs Grading icon Needs Grading icon will in the full Grade Center, and the attempt will appear on the Needs Grading page.

You can change this default setting by unselecting the Show participants in Needs Grading status box or selecting a different number of entries required to display a Needs Grading status:
Needs Grading Journal settings


Use the following steps to grade journal entries.

  1. Access the journal topic page and click the small arrow that appears under your own name to expand the full list of your students
  2. User names will display a number in parenthesis that reflects the total number of Journal entries they have written. Entries that are new since the last time you accessed the Journal page will show a thumbtack icon. Journals that have not yet been graded will show a Needs Grading icon.
    Journal Grading menu
  3. Click on the name of the user whose Journal you would like to grade. The user’s journal entry or entries open in the content frame.
  4. Type a point total in the Grade box. If you associated a rubric for this graded journal, expand and complete the rubric. To learn more, see Grading Rubrics. To edit an existing grade, click in the Grade box and change the grade.
  5. Optionally, type Feedback for the student.
  6. Click Submit to add the grade, feedback, and grading notes to the Grade Center.
    Journal Inline Grading

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Grading a Group Journal

You grade a group journal using the same steps as for individuals. When the entries are submitted, all group members’ names appear with the Needs Grading icon.

When you add a grade for a group journal, the grade is automatically given to all the members of the group and is populated in the corresponding column in the Grade Center for each group member. All members are assigned the same grade, even if a member did not contribute, although you can change this grade.

Grading a group journal

Grading a group journal

You can read all the entries for a group journal and add one grade on the journal topic page. Users with entries that need grading are indicated with the needs grading icon—the exclamation mark—in the Grade Center and on the journal topic page in the All Group Members drop-down list. In addition, the group journal is listed on the Needs Grading page.

Remember, while specifying journal settings, if you did NOT select the Show participants in needs grading status box and select a minimum number of entries, the needs grading icon will not appear in the Grade Center, on the journal topic page, and items do not appear on the Needs Grading page.

The in progress icon shows in the Grade Center cell and in a journal:

  • For student activity that does not meet the minimum number you set.
  • If you did not select the Show participants in needs grading status check box.

Students can view their group journal grades in My Grades and on the group journal topic page by selecting their names.

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Change an Individual Member’s Group Grade

You can assign an individual group member a different grade than the group by editing the grade for the member. If you change a group member’s grade, and you assign a new group grade, the new group grade will not affect the individual’s new grade. The grade the individual member received and the grade the group received are both shown. The individual’s new grade will not appear to the other group members.

In the grading sidebar, click the pencil icon to change the group grade for a member. Type a new grade and click the check mark icon below the grade to save it. This grade becomes an override grade.

Changing an individual member's grade for a group journal assignment

Changing an individual member’s grade for a group journal assignment

The group grade and the individual group member’s edited grade appear in the Grade Center in the column that was automatically created when you enabled the graded group journal. Grayed out cells appear in the group journal column for course members who are not part of the group.

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Revert a Member’s Edited Grade

You can revert a member’s edited grade to the original group grade, which all group members received.

In the grading sidebar, click the pencil icon for the user with the edited grade. Click the left-pointing arrow to change the grade to the original group grade. The override icon is removed. The change also appears in the Grade Center.

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Changing a Topic From Graded to Ungraded

Once a Journal topic has been set up to be graded, you cannot change it back to ungraded. The only way to change from graded to ungraded is to delete the graded journal topic from the Journals listing page and the Grade Center, and create a new ungraded topic.

Alternatively, to retain entries, set the journal’s Grade Center column to not be included in calculations. In essence, the journal continues to be considered graded by the Grade Center, but any results or grades assigned are ignored.

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