This article is for faculty and staff seeking information regarding using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is a video conference tool that enables instructors to connect with their students synchronously through HuskyCT. This article will provide instructions on how to do so.
- Students can participate with video and audio using the Blackboard app on their phones, but they will not be able to share their screen. Neither instructors nor students can use the iPad to directly share their screen using Collaborate. If you use an iPad, you need to project the screen to a computer (Mac or Windows) and share the screen from that computer.
- If the Course Room or created Session will have 250+ attendees, you must check the box for that session setting (see below "Creating a New Session," Step 6 for more information).
Adding the Blackboard Collaborate Tool
To add the Blackboard Collaborate tool to a HuskyCT course or organization,
- Go to your course or organization in HuskyCT.
- Click on the + sign in the Course Menu.
- Select Tool Link.
- Click on Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.
- Enter a name.
- Select Available to Users.
- Click Submit.
Both you and your students will then be able to access Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. A guest can join the Course Room if the Guest Link is shared with them. You can set the role of the Guest in the Settings for the Course Room and find the Guest Link.
Using the Course Room
The Blackboard Collaborate tool comes with a Course Room. The Course Room is always available, and anyone in your course can enter it at any time. When you or your students click on the Collaborate tool, you will see the Course Room. To connect to the Course Room,
- Click on the Course Room.
Click Join Course Room.
In the course room, the instructor can present their screen by default, but the students cannot. If students need to present their screens, it is recommended that your either change their role in the session temporarily, or Change the Default Attendee Role to Presenter in the Course Room, or add a new Collaborate Session where the default attendee is Presenter.
Creating a New Session
- To create a new Session, click on the Blackboard Collaborate tool.
- Click Create Session.
- Complete the required fields.
- Enter a name. A guest link will NOT automatically populate. If you want a Guest to join your session, you need to turn it on. The default role is Participant, but if you wish to have a Guest Speaker join you, you can change it to Presenter.
- Enter the start/end dates and times.
To set up a recurring session, click on Repeat Session or to have the room available at all times, click on No End (open session).
- There are other settings you can configure. For instance, you can either change the Default Attendee Role to Presenter, Allow recording downloads if you want you or your students to be able to download the recorded sessions, or select Large scale session (250+).
- Click Save when you've finished setting up the session.
- Direct your students to the session for which you wish to meet.
Joining a Session
When you or your students join a session, you'll be prompted to turn on your audio and video by clicking the icons at the bottom of the screen. You will need to enable access to your microphone and camera in the browser. You should be prompted for this the first time you use Collaborate. Camera video can slow down the session, so you should only have students turn on their cameras if they are needed.
Managing the Session
There are two menus in Collaborate Ultra.
- Session Menu (located in the top left)
- Collaborate Panel Menu (located at the bottom right)
The Session Menu
The Session Menu is where the instructor would Start Recording. The Session Menu features a phone number that a participant can use to call in if they don't have a microphone or speaker, or leave the session. If you record in the Course Session, make sure that you stop the recording when finished, or else it will continue to record even after you leave.
The Collaborate Panel Menu
The Collaborate Menu is where you can chat with participants, manage the participants (mute microphones, etc.), share content, and change your settings (microphone and camera).
Collaborate Menu Features
- Chat: You can chat with Everyone.
- Participants: Moderator can mute microphones, send a chat message, make a presenter. It's helpful to always keep this open by locking it (see below).
- Share Content: Presenters can share their screen/applications, files, or whiteboards. Moderators can create breakout sessions, conduct a Polling Session.
- Settings: Setup audio and video and other settings, such as notifications.
Locking the Participant Panel
To lock the Participant Panel,
- Click on the three lines above the Participants icon.
- Hold that click and drag the panel to the left.
- Release the icon in the Drop panel here section of the page.
You can share your screen, application, whiteboard, or files. To stop sharing content, click on the stop button in the Share Content panel.
Sharing Content Screen
- Sharing Screen: Recommended for when you need to switch between applications (i.e. PowerPoint and browser). If using Chrome and Windows, you can click Share Audio to play a video and/or share audio with participants in the Share Screen or Chrome Tab option. If using Chrome and Mac, you can click Share Audio to play a video and/or share audio with participants only in the Chrome Tab option (the video must be on a website, i.e. Kaltura or YouTube).
- Sharing Application: Recommended for when you only need to share one application (i.e. PowerPoint) If only have one screen and you want to share PowerPoint and keep the participant panel open to see the student list, you'll need to share that PowerPoint using the Share File option or setup the PowerPoint Slide Show so that it's set to Browsed by an individual (window). This will disable annotation features with PowerPoint, but you can resize the window so you can still see the participant panel and chat panel.
- Share Files: You can use this tool to upload PPT, PDF, or Image files. This allows you to keep the participant panel open while presenting with PowerPoint. You can make annotations on the file after it's been uploaded. Annotations can be saved but in a low-resolution PNG file. Also, the original file is not saved with the annotations.
- Share Whiteboard: You can use this area to make annotations. This feature will not work with an iPad, but it does work with a Windows or Mac computer. You can use WebEx if you need to use an iPad in this manner. Annotations can be saved but in a low-resolution PNG file.
Engaging with Participants
You can share ask your participants to communicate with you non-verbally using either the "My Status and Settings" or raise hand feature features:
When clicking on the My Status and Settings feature, participants can click on feedback such as Happy, Sad, Surprised, Confused, Faster, Slower, Agree, or Disagree. This is a quick way to poll the students in the moment. The data is not saved.
When clicking on the raise hand feature, the student who raised their hand will go to the top of the Attendee List. It's recommended in the Settings for the session, that you keep the Notification Setting for when Someone raises their hand to at least Audio notification.
Polling in Collaborate can be used to ask the students multiple choice or yes/no questions. Click on the Share panel and select Polling. You need to type the question during the session which can take time. A workaround is to put a question with the optional answers in a PowerPoint. Then when creating the question in Collaborate, you don't need to write out the question or the answers. You could just type "q" for the question and "a", "b", "c", etc. for the optional answers. Then click Start to start the poll. See the example below:
During the polling you can allow students to see the responses as they come in, show them after you stop polling, or don't show them at all. Click the circle with the square in it to stop the polling. New: You can download the polling results from the reports feature in Collaborate.
Use Breakout Groups, so students can chat in their groups and then return to the Main Room. As the instructor, you can move from group to group to check on them and see how they are doing. When you start a session, breakout groups are automatically created by Collaborate, and you can move students around as needed. Follow the on-screen prompts to start and stop a breakout session. If you want to create Collaborate groups with specific participants, then you can use the Groups tool in HuskyCT by assigning the Collaborate Tool to any HuskyCT Groups you created in your course. Only the specified group may access the session, and those group members can use it at any time. As the instructor, you can join any group session.
You can join multiple Collaborate sessions at once. If you create groups with the Collaborate tool, you can open all the group Collaborate sessions by opening them in a new tab. This way you can easily move from session to session. Everyone in every group can hear you when you speak so you will need to use Firefox because it is the only browser with the feature to mute one tab at a time (as opposed to muting the site). Once you are in the sessions with multiple tabs open, right mouse click on the sessions you don't want to be heard, and click Mute Tab. Then mute and unmute tabs as you move from session to session.
Accessing Recordings and Reports
If you didn't turn on the Allow recording downloads in the Session Settings, you'll need to turn it on before you download the recording. If you don't want students to be able to download the recordings, turn this setting off when you've downloaded it.
To find recordings for the session,
- Go to Collaborate Ultra in your course.
- Click on the menu in the upper left corner.
- Click on Recordings.
Recordings can take a few hours to process and show up. Please allow 4-6 hours for them to appear.
You can access the attendance reports and polling responses for each Collaborate session and they can be downloaded to a CSV file.
If you plan to give students grades for participating in a session, we recommend you have an alternative way for students to get a grade if they couldn't attend a session. There are a variety of reasons students cannot attend so we ask that it is fair to all.
Under https://catalog.uconn.edu/academic-regulations/grade-information/ it is stated as university policy that students grade can only lower due to lack of participation not absence. Students can not be graded for attendance as this is against university policy.
- Click on the three dots to the right of the session.
- Click on View Reports.
- Click on the View report to the right of the session date.
You can turn on/off notifications for your session. To do so,
- Click on the Collaborate Panel Menu.
- Click on the Settings gear icon.
- Click on Session Settings.
- Turn the notifications you want to receive on or off.
For more information or assistance with HuskyCT, contact the Educational Technology Office at email@example.com or (860) 486-5052.