Using Journals

Why use Journals?

This user guide looks at how to create a journal (exploring various options), how to read journals entries and how to grade a journals.

The Use of Journals in Your Modules

Journals are essentially private blogs that allow students to reflect in a safe and secure space. They allow for dialogue to take place between student and staff if required – again, in a private space. This can let students express themselves.

Creating Blogs for Your Students
  1. Within your chosen module ensure Edit Mode is ON and go into the content area you want to put the blog in.
  2. Hover your mouse over the Tools button at the top of the page and choose Journals from the drop-down menu.
  3. Click the Create New Journal button and you will be taken to the page where you can create your blog.
  4. Enter a Name and some Instructions. These instructions will be visible to the students from inside the journal, so it’s a good idea to put some details about the journal, possibly remind them that this is private and what you are expecting from the students as a reminder to them.
  5. If the journal is to be available immediately to students, ensure the Journal Availability is set to Yes.
  6. You can set the journal to be available during a set period of time if required using the Display After and Display Until options.
Journal Settings

Index Entries controls how the journal posts are organised – either weekly or monthly. When the journal has been created, there will be an index visible on the right-hand side which allows you to navigate the various journal posts. This can be modified at a later date so you might like to experiment.

You can also modify some editing options – allowing users to edit/delete entries and allowing users to delete comments. Students can only delete posts or comments that they have made if you select this option – not posts or comments the module leader has made.

If you want to make the journal visible to all students, tick the Permit Course Users to View Journal. For example, you might want to let students see each others spaces after a certain time. If you plan to do this, you must let the students know in advance.

Grade Settings

If you want your journal to be assessed, click the Grade:Points possible radial button and assign a numerical value. A column within the Grade Centre will be automatically created (with the name of the journal as its title). This will allow you to later assign scores and feedback to individual students based on their engagement with the tool.

Click on Submit when you have specified all of your settings.

Create a Link

Once your journal has been created, it resides within the module. You now need to create a link to the journal and Blackboard will take you automatically to the Link page when you have pressed Submit above.

  1. Ensure Link to a Journal is selected.
  2. Select the journal that the want to link to from the list of available journals (probably the one you have just created). Click Next.
  3. You will be taken to a Link Information page. This is what is shown to the students before they open the journal. The Link Name will default to the name of the journal you set up previously. In the text box you can enter some information about what this journal is for. You have the option to restrict visibility of the journal link if you so desire.
  4. Click on Submit and your journal will be live and ready to use.
Reading the Journal

When you open the journal, you will initially be shown all the journal posts that have been made. You can read and comment on all posts. Over on the right-hand side of the page there is information about the activity within the journal.

  • Click Journal Details to show the journal instructions, the amount of entries and the number of comments.
  • Click the name of a student underneath Journal Details to view a list of all students. Those who have contributed to the journal will have a number in brackets next to their name denoting the number of entries.
  • New posts are highlighted with the pin icon pin-icon.
Grading Journals

If you selected the option to grade the journal, you can assign a score to a particular student from within the journal itself.

  1. Go into the journal.
  2. Select an individual student (as mentioned above in Reading the Journal).
  3. Enter a grade in the box provided.
  4. Enter some feedback in the text box. If you wish to attach a feedback sheet (for example, your school might have a particular feedback form), click the paperclip icon and then browse your computer to select a file to attach.
  5. Click on the A button to launch the full Visual Text Box Editor which enables you to add rich content such as audio and video to your feedback or format the text differently, if you wish.
  6. The Add Notes link allows you to write tutor notes that students cannot see. These are visible to other module leaders.
  7. Click Submit to commit your grades and feedback.