Upload Profile (Avatar) picture.
To allow online students to develop online relationships, suggest that students provide a visual representation of themselves (an avatar or picture) through Blackboard’s Profile feature. Follow this link for instructions on how to change your profile picture in Blackboard: http://blackboardtips.blogspot.com/2013/03/how-to-change-your-profile-avatar.html
Grade discussion forum participation.
Online students tend not to participate in optional activities. In order to engage them in online discussions, you need to give the forum a grade and set expectations to meet.
Establish post and reply expectations with rubrics.
There are a variety of discussion board rubric available to implement. Make sure the one you choose clearly set the expectations for the particular discussion forum it is associated with and aligns with your course objectives and grading criteria.
Use ‘Post First’ setting to encourage original thought.
This option should be set if you expect your students to post their original thoughts to prompting questions without reading other students’ post. Once the student submits their thread, they will have the ability then to review other students’ posts.
Establish post-due dates and reply-due dates.
In Blackboard, you can only assign one due date per assessment. However, to allow for more quality posts and replies, you should establish in your schedule due date for first posts and due dates for replies to other students’ posts. Be sure to provide your grading policy regarding posts/replies submitted after due dates.
Allow student to subscribe to discussion forums.
To encourage active discussions, you can the option to allow email subscriptions. Just like with other notifications student receive from social media, they may feel the urgency to reply to post comments to their posts if they receive an email indicating activity in the forum.