Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is a tool that is available to all Blackboard users. It is a way to create a virtual classroom, office, or meeting space in order to communicate with users on campus or anywhere in the world. Blackboard Collaborate allows faculty members to schedule online classes or office hours to communicate with students live as well as allows students to watch recorded sessions.  Blackboard Collaborate is an interactive and effective teaching tool that is browser-based (We recommend using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox for the best user experience.)

This browser-based virtual classroom and communication tool includes audio, video, an interactive whiteboard, presentation sharing, screen sharing, polling, breakout rooms and session recording.

Blackboard Collaborate is free for all staff to use, and there is no restriction on the maximum number of sessions that can be run at any one time. Blackboard Collaborate works best in a web browser, and is compatible with PC’s, Mac’s, tablets and smartphones. There is no need for attendees to install an app or create an account. Up to 250 attendees can attend each individual session.

This post is to get staff quickly started in using Blackboard Collaborate for teaching/seminars, demonstrating how you can access a Blackboard session, enable audio / video and utilise the screen sharing and presentation options. It will also show how staff can invite and respond to live queries and access online attendance information.

These guides are intended as quick starts into using this application and have been created by using information from the Universities Digital Learning Team and Blackboard Help web pages. For comprehensive user guides please visit the Digital Learning Team and Blackboard Collaborate Help

Post Contents

  1. Accessing collaborate and joining a session.
  2. The Collaborate interface.
  3. Audio and video settings.
  4. Recording your session.
  5. Sharing your screen / app / presentation.
  6. Student communication in session.
  7. What to do at the end of your session.
  8. Additional tools.

For wider more detailed operational instructions for Blackboard Collaborate Ultra the digital learning team have accessible webpages. HERE

Please Note: I recommend accessing Blackboard collaborate in the Google Chrome or Firefox browser to avoid possible issues with 

1 Accessing collaborate and joining a session.

First, navigate to the appropriate blackboard course. From here you will notice a folder directly underneath the module overview and a link on the left hand menu called ‘Blackboard collaborate – Online sessions’ If you click on the folder under the module overview you are taken to the Blackboard Collaborate link. You must click this to access the sessions for this module. If you click the link from the left hand menu, it will take you directly to the module sessions.

Select the relevant session you wish to join.

Select Join Session

 

Once the Blackboard Collaborate window appears, you might see a browser pop up asking for your permission to use your microphone and camera.

 

 

 

 

Click ‘Allow’ to use all of the features within Collaborate. Follow the onscreen instructions to set up your microphone and webcam.

 

You can check your connection to Blackboard Collaborate by using the Digital Learning Teams  test room.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Even if you don’t intend to use your webcam it’s useful to ensure that audio and camera permissions are granted to prevent permission issues during the session.  

2 The Collaborate interface

 Once you have joined a session the main session interface window will be displayed. The content of the session will be displayed here. This could be webcam video(s) a presentation or screen sharing. If there is no shared content, you’ll see attendee profiles in a grid view. 

(useful tip, add any session content you wish to share in advance of the session, student will only have access to the session 15 minutes before its start)

At the bottom of the main stage you will see controls for turning on your webcam and microphone – these are switched off as default when you enter the session.

Access the Collaborate Panel via the purple chevron on the lower right hand side of the screen to access features like the Chat, Attendee Panel and Share Content controls.

Access the session menu on the top left hand side of your screen to start recording (if you’re a moderator) and access the Collaborate help pages (please note any staff who is an instructor in a course will be called as a moderator)

3 Audio and video settings

You must give the browser permission to use audio and video to participate in a session. This is necessary so that you are seen and heard.

You’ll be asked to do this when you first join a session or when you first go to share your audio or video.

NB: Some browsers need access to your microphone to play audio, even if you don’t plan to speak. To hear others in the session, give the browser permission to access the microphone.

Follow these steps to run the audio and video set up:

  1. Open My Settings. Select your profile pictures and select your name. Or open the Collaborate panel and select My Settings.

     

  2.  Select Set Up your Camera and Microphone.

     

  3. Choose the microphone you want to use. Collaborate tells you that you sound great when it is receiving your audio.
  4. Select Yes, it’s working to proceed.

Choose the camera you want to use. Collaborate tells you that you look great when it is receiving your video. Select Yes, it’s working to proceed.

By default, you are hidden and muted after you complete the setup. Select the microphone and camera icons to begin full meeting participation.

Adjust your speaker volume any time in My Settings.

4 Recording your session

Sessions can be recorded so that your students can access presentations whenever they need them. Stop and restart whenever you need to, and when finished, and share with your students.

PLEASE NOTE: Session recordings are not automatic. You must start a recording at the beginning of your session for this to be available for students afterwards. 

Recorded sessions are compressed and saved as MP4s. Recordings include activity in the live session.

  • Audio
  • Any content shared or active speaker video. If both are shared during the session, only the content shared is recorded.
  • Captions entered during the live session or added later by a moderator. Only one caption track is available. If your session had more than one caption track, only the first available one is captured.
  • Chat messages in the Everyone channel are recorded. Private messages and chat messages in breakout groups are not recorded.

Only moderators can turn recording on in sessions.

Everyone can view the recordings from any device as often as they want. There are no view limits.

Recordings need to be converted into a playable format before viewing. The first time a recording is accessed the conversion begins. It may take a few minutes but once is has been done the recording can be viewed by everybody.

Record sessions

You can have multiple recordings during one session. If you decide to continue recording a session after you have stopped, a new recording is saved and added to the list of recordings for that session.

Open the Session menu on the left hand side of the screen and select Start Recording. The recording camera appears on with a red dot while recording is in progress.

To finish recording, open the Session menu and select Stop RecordingYou can have multiple recordings during one session. If you decide to continue recording a session after you have stopped, a new recording is saved and added to the list of recordings for that session.

If you are sharing a file, allow 8 seconds for the recording to include the shared file before moving on.

How do I find the recordings?

You can view recordings in courses you are enrolled in. You may be able to download recordings. Moderators must allow session recording downloads for each session.

Go to Collaborate, open the Menu, and select Recordings.

5 Sharing your screen / app / presentation

Once you are able to join a session (1 hour before the session starts) You can upload content, including PowerPoint presentations, or share your desktop screen to show more detail. Open the Collaborate panel and select Share Content to start sharing and collaborating with your attendees.

Share application

Share your desktop or a software application to teach students about a topic. Whenever you move through the application or desktop, your students automatically follow along.

When you share your desktop or application it is seen by everybody in the live session and anybody viewing the recording later. Make sure to close any windows and applications you don’t want others to see before starting to share.

PLEASE NOTE: Share application is not available on Mac computers without installing the Desktop sharing extension. 

Share audio and video

Use ChromeTM to share audio and video.

Moderators and presenters can share video with audio and audio files in a session from Chrome. All attendees will hear what is played. The way you share audio and video with audio depends on if you’re using a Windows® or Mac OS® computer.

Windows

On Windows, you can share all audio on your desktop, such as YouTube videos or files you have on your computer.

  1. From a Chrome browser, open the Collaborate panel and select the Share Content tab.
  2. Select Share Application/Screen.
  3. Select the Entire Screen or Chrome Tab option.

    If you select the Chrome Tab option, choose the tab you want to share from the list.

  4. Select the Share audio check box.
  5. Select Share.

Mac OS

On the Mac OS, you can only share video audio and audio files from a Chrome tab. Share video from sites like YouTube. Or open video and audio files you have on your computer in a new Chrome tab to share them. 

  1. From a Chrome browser, open the Collaborate panel and select the Share Content tab.
  2. Select Share Application/Screen.
  3. Select the Chrome Tab option.
  4. Select the Share audio check box.
  5. Choose the tab you want to share from the list.
  6. Select Share.

Share files

Upload GIF, JPEG and PNG images, PDF files, or PowerPoint presentations of 60MB or lower to your session. You can upload multiple presentations, however the total size allowed is 125 MB or lower for any particular session.

Limit PDFs and presentations to 500 pages or slides. 

Screen reader users can access text from PowerPoint and PDF files shared in the session. This provides an easy way to follow along as slides change. Moderators and presenters must select Share Files and upload the files to Collaborate for screen readers to access the text.

Select Add Files Here or drag a file into the box to upload it. Select Share Now when you’re ready for students to see the file.

You can prep for class and upload shared materials prior to the session (as soon as you see it available in your scheduled sessions list) These files stay in the session until deleted by a moderator.

6 Student communication in sessions

Our standard Collaborate session setup allows students to attract a staff members attention as well as directly message a presenter and post chat messages to the class group. Please be aware that messages posted in the ‘Everyone’ class chat are recorded along with the session.

Students direct chat functionality amongst themselves and ability to share their audio and video are not enabled by default in sessions, students will only be able to directly chat via message with a moderator.

It is good parctice that while presenting you make sure the Attendees panel is always open. This will allow you to see any students trying to attract your attention as well as make you aware of any direct questions they wish to ask and notify you to any pending chat requests.

Raised Hands

Student have the option to raise their hand. This may be to get a moderators attention or to respond to a quick polling question. Students with hands raised appear at the top of the attendees list. Staff can click the three dots to the right of the students name to send them a direct text based message.

Chat Function

Students are able to place chat message to the whole class group. These comments are not anonymous and are recorded as part of the session. Establish how you expect this function to be used at the start of your session and make student aware it is recorded. This may be a useful too to get some immediate student responses to a question.

Students are able to send direct messages to the moderator. messages can be accessed via the chat section of the control panel. Staff can choose to respond to questions via a return text message or through direct response through audio/video in the presentation.

Tip: If inviting questions try to plan times where you can pause and deal with multiple student questions that may have arisen. This may mean blocking a few minutes at the end of every presented section of your session.

Tip: Start your sesssion with some ground rules. Establish with the students when and how you will deal with their questions as well as how you wish them to be submitted. I.E. ask students to submit question they have through chat and at the end of the section you will review and answer them.

 

7 what to do at the end of your session

To leave a Blackboard Collaborate session, simply close the browser tab.

If you recorded the session, it will be available to view after your session has finished.

Attendence for sessions should be recorded via the SAM sytems as if this was an ‘in person’ session. Students should attend these online session as if they were in person sessions. To check attendence you can access the session attendence report to see who attended, and for how long. 

Accessing Attendence Report. 

If your session has just ended it will not be present in the default session display. to view ended session from the Blackboard Collaborate session list please select  :Filter By: All Previous Sessions’. This will display a list of all completed sessions. 

Select ‘View Reports‘. this will take you to a screen where you can click on a ‘view attendence’ link. The following screen will detail who was present for the session as well as when they logged in and logged out. From this information you can then enter attendence details on SAM

8 Additional tools

Polls – This is the ability to ask a quick yes / no poll of attendees or present them with multiple choice questions. this can then be immidately showed back to the studentss.

Detailed information about setting up polls can be found <HERE>

Quick Start Guide – Create a Collaborate Session

The following is the standard setup for basic seminar and lecture Blackboard Collaborate settings.

  1. Create Sessions

Once the links are set in the module you can click either of the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra links to take you to the Collaborate session page. From here you can then create sessions as needed for all timetabled teaching. 

  1. Click Create Session
  2. Enter a name for your session This can be the seminar date and time. 
  3. Enable Guest access by selecting the checkbox.
  4. Enter the session Start and End time in the Event Details. Allow additional 15 mins to the end of the timetabled session slot and in the ‘Early Entry’ dropdown ensure that at least ’15 minutes before start time is selected’ to allow early entry to the session for lecturer set up.
  5. ‘Optional – add a session description (if appropriate)
  6. Adjust the Session Settings where appropriate. 
    1. Default Attendee Role: Participant
    2. Recording: Check the: Allow Recording Downloads Box
    3. Participants Can – Share Audio: checked
    4. Participants Can – Share Video: checked
    5. Participants Can – Post Chat Messages: Checked
    6. Participants Can – Draw on whiteboard and files: Checked
    7. Private Chat: Participants can only chat privately with moderators: Checked
    8. Click Save to complete the session setupRepeat this process for all timetabled sessions to be undertaken online.

ADDITIONAL HELP

If you have questions, require assistance with or wish to discuss more complex requirements using blackboard collaborate please contact Rob Pashley the departmental Learning Technologist: robert.pashley@sheffield.ac.uk

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