Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is the newer version of Blackboard Collaborate, Blackboards’ video conferencing solution. Blackboard Collaborate used Java, as Java is being phased out by modern browsers as alternative solution had to be created to work with the modern HTML 5 browsers.

Collaborate Ultra is that solution. It has the advantage over the older package in that you don’t need to download and install anything it doesn’t require student to install any plugin.

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 most modern browsers but for the best experience use Google Chrome. It no longer works in Internet Explorer. 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

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 from the BBstudent mobile app, but it can restrict anonymous entry to the rooms.
  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.

 

To join the default room click on 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.

 

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”. The session will now appear in a list. If you chose to repeat the session mutual session will appear on the list.

 

Session Setting

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

To access the session setting for the course room click on the room course room options button Top center and choose “Edit Settings”

To access the session setting for 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 scheduled. It isn’t there while you are creating a session. By default it is turned on.

 

Turn on Guest access for open webinars, if people using the BBstudent mobile app, or if you are not going to give students access to the Blackboard Collaborate ultra 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 gest 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

Guest link is a web URL that can be copied and either places in a web link in blackboard or emailed to a guest.

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

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.

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 you have to choose this option before you make the recording. You can’t change this setting on the recording afterwards.

Anonymize chat messages remove the names of the users in the chat window. You may want to do this if you are recording a webinar for data protection reasons, but for classroom session to prevent trolling it is not recommended you use this option.

Only show profile pictures for Moderators removed the profile picture of participants. You may want to do this if you are recording a webinar for data protection reasons, but for classroom session it is not recommended.

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.

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.

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

Giving Students access to the Collaborate Ultra page

There are two ways to Giving Students access to the Collaborate Ultra page you can place the link in the left menu or add it to a content area.

Adding a link to the Collaborate Ultra page to the left menu

Go to the module where you want to add the link. Hover over the “+” button at the top of the left menu and a menu will appear, Click on “Tool link”.

Enter a name, choose “Blackboard Collaborate Ultra” from the dropdown menu, Tick the “Available to Users” box and Click on the Submit button.

There will now be a left menu item available to student called “Collaborate”.

 

Making a room link available to students in blackboard

Go to the content area where you want to add the link. Click on “Add Interactive Tool” then “More Tools” and “Blackboard Collaborate Ultra”.

Enter a name and set the normal setting for a blackboard item and click on the Submit Button.

There will now be a link to the collaborate ultra page at the bottom of the content area.

Create Web 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 save the session. You can only get the link if the course room or scheduled session has guest access enabled.

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. Depending on which web browser you are using you may get a popup asking for permission to access the clipboard if so click on allow. 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.

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 BBstudent 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. Depending on which web browser you are using you may get a popup asking for permission to access the clipboard if so click on allow. 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

The above image is available from course recourses for you to download and either add 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 Ultra User Interface video Tour :

For full details about Blackboard Collaborate Ultra try the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra help: https://en-us.help.blackboard.com/Collaborate/Ultra

Starter guide

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. The first time you turn on your mic you may get a popup window.

Click on the “Allow” button and Close the window.

If you are just testing the mic you can turn it off. When you turn it on again you won’t get the popup.

If you are going to be using your web cam also click on the video button, you may get the above popup window the first time you open the video, if so click on Allow and Close.

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

Whiteboard

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.

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.

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 as it could be being recorded without your knowledge.

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

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

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.

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 you the users.

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 PGN.

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.

Polling

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 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 is to smaller breakout room to collaborate in smaller groups.

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 have to drag students from the main room into the breakout rooms. 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

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.

Case Studies

Where there’s a webinar there’s a way…
A case study from Elizabeth Marsh, College of Life and Natural Sciences on delivering a one hour lecture via Collaborate Ultra.

Case Studies from the University of Reading