Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is Blackboards’ video conferencing solution / webinar tool.  Take a look at our resource on What is A webinar?

Collaborate Ultra is web conferencing software specifically aimed at education. It enables lecturers to deliver a lesson online to students in remote locations in much the same was as they would in live classroom. Students can take part in the lesion from a PC, laptop or mobile device. Collaborate Ultra also has the ability to record a session for students to review later.

Collaborate Ultra will work with the most up to date versions of Edge, Safari, and FireFox, but for the best experience use Google Chrome. It no longer works in Internet Explorer or the old version Edge. It is also available for mobile devices. For more info about using Collaborate on a mobile device go to the Collaborate Ultra Mobile help page

NOTE – Please refer to our tips and techniques on how to run a successful webinar. 

Here are some short videos on using Collaborate.

For further information click to expand the links below:


Scheduling a room

When scheduling rooms you have two options.

  1. Give student access to the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra page. This means your students will have access to all the rooms and all the recordings. You won’t be able to restrict access for anybody on the module to any of the rooms or recordings. This option doesn’t work directly from the BBstudent mobile app, but it can prevent anonymous entry to the rooms. This option is setup by default in the blackboard template
  2. You don’t give student access to the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra page. Instead you create individual web links to each room and recording and place those link in an appropriate place in your module. You can then restrict when and who can access rooms and recordings. This option will work on the BBstudent mobile app, but you can’t restrict anonymous entry to the rooms.

If you choose option 1 you can still create link to rooms and recording but if you use a link to a room you can’t restrict anonymous entry.

Each module has one “Course Room” by default (This should probably be called a module room). You can get to the room by clicking on module Tools to open the Module tools menu.

Then click on “Blackboard Collaborate Ultra” to open you Collaborate Ultra Page.Collaborate scheduling page

To join the default room click on circle with three dots to open the menu then click the “Join room” button.

To create a new room which you may want to do if you are using a rooms for a different purpose like private tutoring, Open webinar, or group rooms. Click on the “Create Session” button. A right menu will appear. First enter the event details.


Collaborate event settings

Enter a name for the Room / Session.

Enter start and end date for the session to be available.

If the session has no end date click on the “No End” option.

If you want the session to be repeated. Click on the repeat option and the repeat section will open.

Chose Daily, Weekly or monthly.

Choose which days you want the session to be available.

Choose either the number of occurrences or an end date

If you want to allow early access to the room choose how long before the session people can enter.

Optionally add a description for the room

After entering the event details you can also set the session setting (See below).

When you are happy with the event details and the session setting click “Save” or “Create”. The session will now appear in a list. If you chose to repeat the session mutual session will appear on the list.

Session Settings

Session setting can be set for scheduled rooms or for the course room.

To access the session setting for the course room or a schedules session click on the session options button Right in the list and choose “Edit Settings” for a single occurrence or “Edit Recurring Session” for Recurring Session. Alternatively you can set the session setting when you create the session.

The Guest access section only becomes available after a session has been Named and saved. By default guest acces is turned off.

Turn on Guest access for open webinars if you are not going to give students access to the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra scheduling page. Anybody accessing a session through a guest link will be asked to enter a name on entering the room. This means you only have their word they are who they say they are.

Turn off the guest link for private tutoring session where students are accessing the room through Blackboard Collaborate ultra page using a web browser.

Guest Role sets role for all guests.

Participant gives guests the rights you set below

Presenter give guests the right to upload content and control the main screen.

Moderator gives guests the same rights as the tutor, moderators can start recording, change session setting and chang user permissions.

Guest link is a web URL that can be copied and either places in a web link in blackboard or emailed to a guest. The guest link will only be created when you click the “save” or “Create” button

Collaborate session settings

Default Participant Role sets role for all students logging in through the collaborate ultra page.

Participant gives students the rights you set below

Presenter give students the right to upload content and control the main screen.

Moderator gives students the same rights as the tutor, moderators can start recording, change session setting and chang user permissions.

For a group room you give the guests / students moderator access, for a webinar you give them participant access. For a classroom session you can choose which level of access to give them.

As a moderator you can change individuals’ permissions during a session.

Allow recording downloads makes a down load button available on the recording. If you want a recording to be downloadable by students, you have to choose this option before you make the recording. You can’t change this setting on the recording afterwards.

Anonymise chat messages remove the names of the users in the chat window in the recording. You may want to do this if you are recording a webinar for data protection reasons.

Only show profile pictures for Moderators removed the profile picture of participants. You may want to do this to stop student uploading inappropriate messages.

Share their Audio and Share their Video allows student to speak and be seen in a session. You would use these option for a collaborative session but not for a webinar with a large number of participants. If you don’t use these option you can still invite people to speak by changing their permissions during a session.

Post Chat Messages allows participants to post to the chat window. You would want this on in most cases the only exception would be for a large webinar where you weren’t inviting audience participation.

Draw on whiteboard and files gives students access to the drawing tools. You wouldn’t use this for a large webinar. It’s up to you if you want to use this for other sessions. If you don’t use these option you can still invite people to draw by changing their permissions during a session.

private chat settings

Private Chat can be enabled and as a moderator you can chose if you want access to the private chat channels.   

Fineraly there is the Large scale session option

Large scale sessions option

You have to chose this for session with more then 250 people, it increases the limit to 500 people but turning this on adds some restrictions.

  • Webinar sessions can’t be longer than 24 hours in length
  • Guests must be assigned the participant role
  • Participant permissions are turned off
  • Breakout groups aren’t available

Large scale sessions have a maximum duration of 24 hours, and you are unable to create large scale sessions for repeating, or open ended sessions. New sessions must be scheduled if you need multiple large scale sessions.

Locking the course room

To lock a course room preventing student access, click on the round course room options button and choose “Lock Course Room” This will make the course room unavailable to everybody. You will see the Room logo now says locked.

Course room locked

To unlock the room just click on the course room options button again and choose “Unlock Course Room”

Create Guest links to Rooms

First you need to get the link to the room. If you are scheduling a new room/session the link won’t become available until after you have named the session. You can only get the link if the course room or scheduled session has guest access enabled.

Collaborate guest access

you can copy the link to your clipboard by clicking on the two squairs. 

Get the link

If you want the link for the course room click on the room course room options button Top center and choose “Copy guest link”.

If you want the link for a scheduled session click on the session options button Right in the list and choose “Copy guest link”.

In both cases a link will appear. This will automatically copy the link to your clip board.  If it doesn’t copy the link to your clip board then right clicking on the link and chose Copy from the pop up menu.

This link can be added to a blackboard content area or emailed to someone.

Adding a link to the content area

Go to the content area where you want to add the link, hover over build content and click on add web link.

Enter a name for the web link usually the room name.

Paste the link into the URL box.

You can add a description if you like and set the usual blackboard item options.

Then click Submit.

The link to your Collaborate Room will appear at the bottom of the content area.

Adding a menu link to the collaborate page

From 2019 all HE and FE module have a link to the collaborate page in the menu by default. Programme areas and sandboxes may not have one.

To add one, click on the + button at the top of the left menu

adding to the menu

Choose tool link

adding a tool link

Type “Collaborate (Virtual Classroom)” in the name box, select Blackboard collaborate ultra from the drop-down list and check the Available to users tick box, and click the submit button.

adding the collaborate page

The collaborate ultra tab will appear at the bottom of the white menu. You can move it up the menu by hovering over it and dragging the up-down arrow.

moving a menu item

Giving Students access to the Collaborate recording

If you have given student access to the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra page, they will already have access to all the recordings so long as they are not using the Blackboard student mobile app.

If you or the students click on the burger menu button     top left of the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra page, the left menu will appear.

Click on recording to see the list of recording of all the recordings for that module.

If you haven’t given student access to the Blackboard collaborate ultra page, you will need to create individual links for each recording. Go to the Recording page using the instructions above.

You can filter the recording by a date range by clicking on the dropdown arrow and entering dates.

To get the link for a recorded session by clicking on the recording options button Right in the list and choose “Copy link”.

A link will appear.  This will automatically copy the link to your clip board.  If it doesn’t copy the link to your clip board then right clicking on the link and chose Copy from the pop up menu.

This link can be added to a blackboard content area or emailed to someone.

Add this link to a content area in the same way as you would for a room link (See “Add the web link to a content area” above).

Deleting a recording

Go to the recording as described above.

Clicking on the recording options button Right in the list of recording, and choose “Delete”.

Click on the “Yes, Delete it” button to confirm.

Note: you will not be able to recover a deleted recording.

Using Collaborate Ultra

Collaborate User Guide

The above image can be downloaded as a PowerPoint Slide.  Add it to the beginning of your PowerPoint presentation or upload directly to your collaborate room as an intro slide for your first time user students.

Blackboard Collaborate have a good  Ultra User Interface video Tour that’s worth watching. 

For full details about Blackboard Collaborate Ultra try the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra help:

Getting Started guide

When you first enter a room be asked to test your mic and video. 

The interface consists of 4 main areas

  1. The main screen (this contain presenter video or the presentation everybody can see what’s in the main window)
  2. The bottom control bar (this has your video, and mic controls, and raise hand button )
  3. The Right Purple collaborate panel (this has chat, participant, content, and setting)
  4. The Left Black session menu (this has the recording button and access to help)

The Mic and video controls are the most important controls. When you start a session they are both muted.

Click on the mic button at the beginning of a the session to test you mic, the diagonal will disappear indicating you are not muted  If your mic is working the white in the middle of the mic will go up   and down   as you speak.

If you are going to be using your web cam click on the video button. You will get a Video Preview window you can use this to test you video is working. If your computer has two video sources you can choose which one to use from here.

Click on the cancel button if you were just testing the video, or click on the share video button to start sharing.

Click on the purple tab (bottom right) to open the collaborate panel 

At the bottom of the collaborate panel you have the follow five buttons

  1. Chat shows the text chat panel
  2. Participants shows participants panel, a list of participants grouped by permission level
  3. Share Content gives you access to the content options panel
  4. Setting opens the settings panel
  5. Close Collaborate panel button. Minimizes the panel

The most important of these is the Content options panel

Collaborate content tools


When you click on Share Blank Whiteboard the main screen change to the white board.

With the white board you can write and draw just like the whiteboard in a classroom.

The tools are quite basic you have a pointer, pen, shape tool and text. The rubber will remove everything

These drawing tools are also available over PowerPoint slides.

If you right click on the whiteboard or Powerpoint you can the option to save the image or copy it to your clipboard.

Saving the whiteboard 

Click the stop button to stop sharing the whiteboard. 

Application sharing

When you click on the application Share Application button.

You get a popup window.

share screen options

Choose “Entire Screen” if you want to share your desktop. If you have more than one monitor you can choose which monitor you want to share.

Note: if you chose this option make sure you are not showing any sensitive data on any application on your screen as it could be being recorded without your knowledge. Also make sure you have turned of any popups like Teams Popups that may appear on your screen during a session. 

there is an extra option at the bottom to share system audio. 

Note: If you share system audio you will not be able to hear any voice chat from othere people in the session untill you stop shareing the screen. This is to prevent feedback. 

Click the share button to start shareing

Choose “Application Window” this is the more secure option but can be cumbersome if you are swapping between apps.

You will get a tab with a list of open application.

share app options

Choose the application you want to share and click the Share button.

Note: This is not suitable for sharing full screen video applications as the frame rate is very slow and the audio will not be broadcast.

Note: if you have another application open over the top of the application you are sharing then the hidden area could appear blank to other users. There is also the possibility that the top application could be shown to the users.

Click the share button to start shareing

Choose “Chrome Tab” or “Microsoft Edge tab to share other tabs toy have open in the same braower you are using for collaborate. 

shaire browser tab options

there is an extra option at the bottom to share system audio. 

Note: If you share system audio you will not be able to hear any voice chat from othere people in the session untill you stop shareing the tab. This is to prevent feedback. 

Click the share button to start shareing

Click on the stop button in the top right of the main window to stop sharing. 

Share Camera

share camra button

Using the share camers option is not the same as turning on your webcam. it make the chosen camra the main presentation, and full screen on everybodys device. this could be used to just make the presenter more porminant or it could be used to share an other camra e.g. a document camra. Turning this on doesn’t turn on the stop the normal webcam showing 

When you click on the share Camera button you get a list of cameras to choose form.

Camra options

Click on the camera you want to make the main presentation. you will see a preview.

click Share video to start using. 

Click on the stop button in the top right of the main window to stop sharing. 

Share files

Share files is the most important button in the share content panel.

This is where you upload your presentation. When you open the Share Files panel you get a grey box.

You can upload your content just by dragging your files into this box. Alternatively click on the box to open the files choosing window.

It will only accept PowerPoint, PDFs and standard internet image formats Gif, Jpeg and Png.

When you upload PowerPoint it will take a while to process, a minute or so. It will remove any animation and turn all your slides in to flat images. When it is done select it and click share now, you will then have a list of slides to choose from.

Click on the slide you want to start from and the slide will appear in the main window.

The drawing tools will appear (See the whiteboard section for information about the drawing tools) you can draw over the PowerPoint slides but the drawing is lost if you change slide.

At the bottom you have the navigation buttons to move you through the presentation.

Click on the stop button in the top right of the main window to stop sharing    or chose something else to share.

Note: you can upload multiple files to share.

Note: your files will still be here next time you enter this room.

When you have finished with the Share Files panel Click on the “< Share Files” button to go back to the share content panel.


The Polling button opens the polling panel.

You ask the student a question verbally and ask them to select an answer, you then choose how many options there should be.

The students then chose from the numbered answers.

You see the results.

When the students are done you can share the results by clicking on the show responses button.

Click the end polling button   to stop the pole. This will clear the results and close the window.

When you have finished with the Polling panel Click on the “< Polling” button to go back to the share content panel.

Breakout Groups

Breakout Groups allow you to split your students in to smaller breakout room to collaborate in smaller groups.

You access Breakout Groups from the Shaire Content Tab

You can rename groups by clicking on the group name and editing the name.

You can create as many groups as you like. You create new groups by clicking on the + button

You can allow students to choose which group to join by clicking on the allow participants to switch groups option

Alternatively you can drag and drop students from the main room into the breakout rooms, or assign student to groups randomaly. The changes you make to which rooms the students are in doesn’t take effect until you click on “Start

Once breakout Room are active you can still move students from room to room, you have to click the “Update” Button.  for any changes to take place.

As a tutor you can go into any breakout room by clicking on the join room button

Share files to breakout groups

Watch a video about sharing files to breakout groups

You can share files, with one or more breakout groups.

  1. After starting breakout groups, select Share Files.
  2. Open the File options menu of the file you want to share.
  3. Select Share with groups.
  4. Choose the groups you want to share the file with.
  5. Select Share Now.

The first slide of the file displays in the breakout group.Share files to breakout groups

You can also save group files to use later. Find the breakout group files and save them to the main room before logging out of the session.

To end all the breakout sessions click on the End breakout Groups button.

When you have finished with the Breakout Groups Click on the “< Breakout Groups” button to go back to the share content panel.

Session Menu

Click on the black tab (top left) to open the Session Menu.  

From the session menu you can start a recording, report an issue and access the help files.

Making a Recording

To start a recording open the session menu   and click on the Start recording button.

While you are recording the session menu tab also shows a recording camera with a red dot.

To finish recording open the session menu and click on the stop recording button.

It may take several hours for recording to be processed and appear in the recordings list in your module.

Accessing and Sharing a Collaborate Recording

To access a collaborate recording, go to the scheduling page.

Link to collaborate

Then click on the burger menu.

sessions/recordings menu

Then Click on recordings

Collaborate burger menu

You will then see a list of recording from the last 30 days. For older recording click on the Recent Recording drop down box and choose Recording in a Range.

recording date range

You can then pick a date range to look for your recording

Date range

If you start the date range from the 1st of September, you will see all the recoding from that acedemic year. 

When you have found your recording click on the three dots to access the options.

recordings options

You only get the download option if you are a tutor or if the Download recordings option was chosen in the room settings before the recording was made.

To share the web links to the recording with people not attached to the module, after the 16th of July 2020, you will have to turn on the option to allow public access to the recording. recording made befor this date will have the option turned on by default. to turn it on click on recording setting and check Allow publick access then save the setting. 

Student who have access to the collaborate ultra page will be able to access the recording reguardless of the Public access setting.

To get the link to the recording click on Copy Link button to add the URL to the clip board and paste the URL into the location where you want to make the recording available form.

Session Reports

This reports on who came, how long for and an average attendance time. A separate report is available for every session, if you use a session more than once.

The session report only get generated after session has finished this will be when the room has been empty for about 5 minuites. 

To see a report, find the session. you may have to click on the all previous session if the session is repeating or it has an end date

previous sessions drop down window

Then click on the three dots next to the session, then choose View Reports.

you will see a list of all the events for this room

list of events

If an event used Polls there will be a download button to download a spread sheet of the poll resualts. 

Click on View report for the session you want to see. An overview of all the data is available. You can also export the data to print or CSV for Excel analysis.

Here’s a video of how to access a session report

More information about reports can be found here.

Adding captions

Unfortunately, Collaborate does not provide in built automatic captioning. There are however several options to help create captions or summarise the key points made in collaborate sessions. If students within the teaching session require captions and it is expected that there will be a significant contribution from other students, it is recommended that Microsoft Teams should be used and recorded using Panopto. The auto-captioning option within Teams will capture all participants rather than just your contribution. 

Sharing your PowerPoint in Office365 

Use automatic captions generated through Microsoft Office 365 PowerPoint (online and latest version of app on desktop) then share this screen within Collaborate. 


  • Use subtitles below slides so it does not obscure any content on the slides themselves. 
  • As the words displayed will only caption you, repeat questions or key points being made by others so these are also captioned. 
  • Auto-captioning is not 100% accurate so make sure students are aware of this and to ignore any translations that don’t make sense. This is sometimes more problematic for acronyms and subject specialist terminology. 

Using a live captioner 

Ask another member of staff to act as a live captioner – where captions will appear over the slides during the session. The recording of the session will also capture these for those who are not able to attend live. 


  • It is good to have someone available with a good level of typing skills in order to make this quicker and more accurate. 

Adding them to the recording – this is only needed if the above options have not been used 

Download the recording and then upload it into Panopto. The recording will then have auto-captions added. You can also edit these if they are not accurate.   

To be able to download the recording you need to change the session settings to enable downloads. 

  • Download the recording
  • You will now need to upload this into Panopto 
  • Watch back the recording to check the accuracy of the captioning and correct obvious errors. 
  • Auto-captioning is not 100% accurate so make sure students are aware of this and to ignore any translations that don’t make sense. This is sometimes more problematic for acronyms and subject specialist terminology. 
Security Best Practice

The safety and security of our student learning environment is of the utmost importance. We understand that many of you have already transitioned to a fully remote learning environment. This shift has created new challenges when it comes to things like the security of your virtual classrooms. Based on reports of unauthorized individuals gate-crashing virtual classrooms, we want to make sure that you are utilising the security features built into Blackboard Collaborate to provide the most secure learning experience that protects students from individuals who are on a mission to disrupt instruction.

There are three core features of the Collaborate platform that help ensure a secure virtual classroom experience:

  • Restrict participant permissions – This feature enables instructors to ensure that only session moderators can control the whiteboard, video/audio, and chat features. You can do this in the room setting befor the session or by editing the setting during the session.
  • Secure authentication – This ensures students are able to access only those virtual classrooms assigned for their course (this requires all the participants to be on the same blackboard module or program). You do this by making the students join the session from the Blackboard collaborate Ultra page in Blackboard and turining off guest access is the session settings. 
  • Unique session links – This enables instructors to send a unique link to session participants. You do this by creating a new session for each event rather than reusing the same session for every eveny. This ensure that only the guests of the courent event have access to the URL to enter the event. 

Please reference this FAQ document to help you navigate all of the security features within Collaborate. It includes helpful instructions for administrators, instructors, and users.

Using Collaborate in Blackboard Groups for Recording Assessment

If you want to record group presentations, viva interviews, or group collaborate discussions you can use Blackboard Collaborate within your Blackboard groups. All recordings will be visible just to tutors and students who are members of the group. Student can’t delete or edit recordings and the recordings are time stamped. 

As a tutor you will be able to rename and delete a recording. You can share the link to the recording with external examiners. You will not be able to download the recording for editing or uploading to another platform.

You can use existing  blackboard groups if you have already set them up. You will just need to check you have given the groups access to the colaborate tool and the ability to record sessions. 

To make groups available to student you will have to add the groups tool to the left menu if you haven’t already done so.

Click on the Plus (+) button and choose Tool link

Create a tool link

Under Name type “Groups”

Choose Available to users

Pick Groups from the drop down menu

name the tool link

You will now have a Groups tab for student at the bottom of your left white menu.

Groups button

The next thing you need to do it to set up blackboard groups. For viva assessment you may need to setup one group for each student so that each group contains just one student.

From your module page go to Module Management > Control Panel> Users and Groups > Groups

Unfortunately, there is bug in blackboard that means if you create group sets then it will not remember to give the student the option to record collaborate session, so it is best to create each group individually (or go back through and edit each group to give them record permissions).

Click on the Create button and choose a Single Group > Manual Enrol

Give the group a name

Set “Group is visible to student” to Yes

name the group

Under Tool Availability, make sure Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is ticked and “Allow all group members to create and access session recording” is chosen.

choose the collaborate tool

This will make all the members of the groups moderators in the collaborate room so they can start recordings.

Under Membership click the Add user button

In the popup window select the users to add to this group and click submit

select group members

You will then see the names of the student you selected in the group. Click the submit button to create the group.

submit the group

Repeat this for each group.

Once you have setup the groups you and your student can access the group’s collaborate room by clicking on the groups tab in the white left menu

Groups button

As a tutor you will see all the groups. As a student you will just see your groups.

group view

If you click on the group, you will see the group tools

Click on the collaborate link in the group tools you will see the group’s collaborate room

choose the collaborate tool

There you will see the recent recordings (last 30 days) and a link to join the room. Click on the Join Room link to enter the collaborate room.

group collaborate room

To view older recordings click on Recent recordings and change it to recording in a Range using the date picker, then select a new range.

recording in a range

See the instruction above on how to use the collaborate room once you are in there. All student will be moderators or presenters in group rooms so participant setting will have no effect on students.

Using Collaborate with Externals

Blackboard Collaborate in setup from within a blackboard module or sandbox, but through use of the guest link you can invite people to a Collaborate session, who do not have access to Blackboard or the module the session is set up in.

The guest link do not require authentication to access the session so can be sent to anybody.

To find out how to get a guest link see the “Create Guest links to Rooms” section above.

It would be good to also send guidance to your guests to use the Chrome Browser to access the session. Guess links can be access through Chrome on most devices but for iPad collaborate can only be accessed through the up-to-date version of Safari which is only on newer version of the iOS operating system.

Making students presenter so they can share their screen

You can upgrade participants from viewer to presenter so they can share their screen.

Go to Attendees

Click on the three dots next to the upgrade target user

Click make presenter (unwise: do not make them moderators)

Collaborate Trouble Shooting for Staff

Click To learn more about Inclusive use of Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

Case Studies

Case Studies from the University of Reading

To view a recording of a Collaborate training sessions click below

DELTA Staff Development Traing room / Collaborate Training Session 29/01/2020

DELTA Staff Development Training room / Collaborate Training session 15/09/2020

DELTA Staff Development Training room / Blackboard groups to record vivas and presentations with collaborate 22/09/2020

DELTA Staff Development Training room / PowerPoint subtitles in collaborate 22/09/2020

DELTA Staff Development Training room / Advanced Collaborate (Subtitles and Assessment) 06/10/2020