Blackboard Collaborate

What is Blackboard Collaborate?

Blackboard Collaborate is a real-time video conferencing tool that allows you to add files, share applications, and use a virtual whiteboard to interact. Collaborate with the Ultra experience opens right in your browser, so you don’t have to install any software to join a session.

Here is Blackboard Collaborate in action:

What is needed for Collaborate to run?

  • Working PC, Mac or Mobile devices: Sessions are hosted in your settings2browser. You are required to use Google Chrome (with the latest version updates) as a browser to access the session. Collaborate sessions can also be accessed via mobile devices.
  • Internet connection: The faster your web connection the better Collaborate will work, although a regular broadband connection should prove ample.
  • Headsets, microphone and Webcam: headsets and microphones are required if you don’t have them built-in on your device. Before the session starts, please ensure that the devices are connected correctly, and permission is given to the browser to use audio and video. You can use the “Set up your Camera and Microphone” option under My Settings to choose the right audio and video devices in Collaborate. Webcam is optional if video is not essential to join the session.

For information on Accessibility, please follow the link here.

How can I set up Collaborate in my course?

Blackboard Collaborate is available by default in every course.

Please follow this link for instructions on how to make the Collaborate Course Room accessible to your students.

If you run sessions by stream groups, you may use Collaborate using one of the following three options:

Option 1: Course Room

Scenario: You run sessions for different streams at different times, and you don’t need to set up sessions for each stream with date/time details. 

Everything can be run using the default Collaborate Course Room. This is like using the same classroom for different groups of students. This option only applies if there is no time clash among all the stream sessions. 

Instructions 

The default Course Room is available in every course in Blackboard. To make this space available to your students, please follow this link for instructions.

Option 2: Multiple sessions under Blackboard Collaborate in your course 

Scenario: You want to run sessions for different streams and you want to set up sessions for each stream with date/time details. You are happy to let students see and/or join other sessions. 

You can set up Collaborate sessions for each stream group under the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra page. All students will see all the created Collaborate sessions for all streams, and they can pick up their own one to join.  

Good practice would be to lock the Course Room while stream sessions are being run. This way, students won’t end up in the wrong session waiting for you.  

Instructions

Here is the instruction on setting up multiple Collaborate sessions. Once the sessions are ready, please follow this link for instructions on how to make the Collaborate Course Room accessible to your students

Option 3: Group Collaborate sessions 

Scenario: You have sessions for different streams, and you want students to only see and join the collaborate session for their own stream. 

For this option, the stream groups need to be set up before you turn on the Collaborate Tool under the groups. If you need help to set up the stream groups, please contact altlab@aut.ac.nz. 

You can turn on the Collaborate tool option on the groups page. This will create Collaborate sessions for the particular group or groups. Group Collaborate sessions are private, and only members of the group have access to this tool. 

Using Group Collaborate tool means members of the group would have presenter or moderator’s role, rather than as participants in the Group Collaborate sessions. They can create and access session recordings if settings are set to allow the permission.  

Group Collaborate sessions DO NOT provide member participation reports. 

Instructions

Please follow this link for instructions on creating Group Collaborate sessions and guidance on how you and your students should access the group sessions.

How can I share powerpoints in Collaborate?

This video explains two ways you can share your PowerPoint presentations.

Switch views in a session

Content that you share is automatically the main focus of your screen. The picture-in-picture shows you who is speaking. If you’re not sharing content, the focus is on participant profiles and video. You can switch between a grid view and a view that follows the speaker. With the follow-the-speaker view, the focus moves to the current speaker as the discussion unfolds.

Collaborate Ultra switches to follow-the-speaker view automatically when there are more than five participants.

Breakout groups

In a Collaborate session, it’s possible to put students into breakout rooms. For example, if you have 30 students in your session, and you would like to ask students to be in a group of 5 to have a group discussion, it is possible to set up 6 break out rooms.

The video below shows you how breakout groups work:

The concept of Breakout groups is different from group Collaborate sessions.

Collaborate is one of the tools that can be made available as a group tool, same as discussion boards, Wikis, Blogs etc. The group Collaborate session is a proper Collaborate space, and is private to only the group members. If you create the stream groups in your course, and enabled the Collaborate tool for the groups, students within each stream can make use of the Collaborate space and meet online. And this Collaborate space is only private within the stream group.

Meet with up to 500 attendees

A Collaborate session can host up to 250 attendees by default. You may increase the capacity by ticking a checkbox for the option “Allow 250+ attendees to join” under Large scale session (250+) in the session setttings area. And this will allow you to host the Collaborate session with up to 500 attendees!

Best practices for securing your Blackboard Collaborate sessions

There has been an instance in which strangers have accessed a Blackboard Collaborate session, and caused disturbances. These uninvited guests have not hacked into Blackboard — they have simply received the guest link and were able to joined the Blackboard Collaborate session with the link.

For tips to securing your Blackboard Collaborate sessions, please visit altLAB site here.

Collaborate guides for students

The video guide for students is available on the AUT website, as part of the student re-orientation resources. Please feel free to copy and paste the links to the video and PDF guides in your course for your students.

Link to the video resource is here.

Link to the PDF resource is here.

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