Course Management (Blackboard)

What is Blackboard?

Blackboard is a web-based course management system that makes it easy for instructors to manage materials distribution, assignments, communications, and other aspects of instruction for their courses. This service is available at no cost and is supported for use by all faculty and instructors at Cornell University and extension units. 

Why Use Blackboard?

The way you use Blackboard for your specific class will depend on the course learning outcomes, types of activities you have students do, and what information you want to make available.

Blackboard can assist with:

  • Course management and student learning (e.g. organize and store course documents, post PowerPoint slides of lectures, follow student progress with Gradebook, etc.).
  • Facilitating learning activities that work toward your course's learning objectives (e.g. incorporate online discussions or utilize student collaboration tools).
  • Assessing student learning (e.g. online quizzes, portfolios, assignments, or gradebook tools).

Considerations for Using Blackboard

If you are considering using Blackboard for academic purposes you will need to familiarize yourself with the law and policy around the protection of students’ education records as well as copyright for both you as the faculty member and for the students.

Family Education Rights Protection Act (FERPA)

Faculty should be aware that the content students enter into Blackboard constitutes an education record and that FERPA regulations apply. Those regulations require that the content be protected from disclosure without student consent. Disclosure in this context includes posting student content openly on the internet. University authentication that is automatic to accessing these sites provides technical protection of education records.

Faculty who intend to have students post original work openly on the internet may do so with the students’ permission or by providing an opt-out option for individual students.

Copyright and Academic Integrity

Faculty own the copyright of original content entered into Blackboard according to Cornell University Copyright Policy, unless other contracts or agreements have been arranged specifically between the faculty member and the university. Please note that students own the copyright of the content they contribute to these sites as well, unless they are working in their capacity as a Cornell employee or other holder of a university appointment.

Moreover, both faculty and students are advised to use Blackboard resources responsibly by observing all laws and university policy that are incorporated into the Codes of Conduct and Academic Integrity. Some specific aspects of law and policy that might be well to remember are prohibitions against copyright infringement, plagiarism, harassment, or interference with the underlying technical code of software. For more information visit the Cornell’s Digital Literacy Resource page.


Blackboard conforms to Web Content Accessibility (WCAG) Guidelines 2.0 Level AA as well as the Section 508 accessibility standards. For more information, read about Accessibility in Blackboard Learn.

Related Cornell Policies

The following Cornell Policies relate to use of Blackboard:

Getting Started with Blackboard

Contact the Center to set up a consultation to learn more about how to incorporate Blackboard into teaching and learning. Several Resource Library items are also available to explore on your own.