Blackboard Collaborate is a simple, convenient, and reliable online collaborative learning solution which can be added to your modules to create a virtual classroom or webinar session where you can present and interact with your students or other members of staff.

This guide will show you how to set up a session and get the most from Collaborate.


Adding Collaborate to your Course

In the top left of your Blackboard course you will see an 'add' icon (see image below). Click here to add tools to your course, then click on 'Tool Link'.

In the 'type' list you will see 'Blackboard Collaborate Ultra', click this tool and give it a name, for example, 'Collaborate'. The tool will then appear at the bottom of your course menu item list with the name you just applied.


Setting up a Collaborate session

Click on the link that you have just set up in the left hand menu to access Collaborate.

To to create a new Collaborate session simply click on the Create session button.

This will option the options for the session which you can customise.

First in the top text box give your session a relevant name such as 'My webinar'.

If you would like non-UEA users to access the session you can click on the Guest access option. You can then choose the role that guests have and also you will be provided with a link that you can send them so that they can join.

You can then choose the Start time and end time or you can leave it open ended by clicking on the No end (open session) option.

If this is a session you would like to run regularly you can click on the Repeat session opton where you can choose to run the session daily, weekly or monthly.

You can also provide a detailed description should you desire.

You can also access some more advanced options by clicking on the Session Settings option at the bottom of the page. These include the Default Attendee Role the ability to allow recordings of the session to be downloaded, the option to anonymise chat messages as well as allowing participants to share audio and video.

Once you have selected all of your settings click on the Save button to create the session.


Using Collaborate

When you have successfully set up your Collaborate session it will appear in your course room. To start click on the name of the session, a button labelled Launch session will appear. Click on this to begin.

The session will then launch. At the bottom of the page are a number of controls. These include the options to share audio and video. By default these will be crossed out but clicking on the microphone button and the video buttons will start these services.

Please not that your browser may ask for permission to access these devices which you need to approve. You will also be given a preview of what your video looks like before you proceed.

Also if you click on the icon of the person (with the tick on it) to the left of these controls you can go into more advanced audio and video settings, for example if you want to use an external webcam or microphone instead of the inbuilt ones.

In the bottom right hand corner of the screen is a purple icon. Click on this to reveal a panel with access the available tools you can use during the session.

The first option you are presented with is the Chat window. Here you can search for a participant to send a message to, talk to everyone or send a private message to those who you have set up as moderators for the session.

By selecting one of these you are given a chat window labelled Say something. You can enter your text in this box and it will be sent to the intended recipients. As well as text there is also a selection of emojis you can use.

The next tab gives you a list of attendees so that you can see who is in the session with you.

The next option is the ability to share content. From here you can open and interactive whiteboard which you can annotate on, share your entire screen or just a single application or share files with the group.

You can also run a poll for voting and create breakout groups where you can group participants into separate private groups so that they can work collaboratively. As a moderator you can dip in and out of each of these groups and communicate with the members.

The last options which is the My Settings options basically mimics the audio and video options that we detailed previously.


Recording the session

You can also record the session so that those who could not attend the live event can view it at a later date. To do this click on the black at tab in the top left hand corner of the screen.

You can then click on the Start Recording button to capture the session. A red camera icon will appear in the tab to indicate this.

When you have finished the session you can click on the tab again and select Stop Recording.

If you did choose to record the session it is available to participants after the fact. To access the recordings go back to the Collaborate course room (this is the Tool link you set up intially).

You will see a list of the sessions that were set up by you. To view the recordings click on the 'hamburger' menu in the top left hand corner and from the menu that appears on the left select Recordings and click on the session you would like to view.