If you’re looking for a video conferencing tool that’s easy to use for both you and your students, be sure to check out the new Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, available now in your Blackboard course shell.
Collaborate Ultra’s HTML5 interface provides a full suite of conferencing tools — like application sharing, multi-user video, and virtual whiteboards — directly in your browser. There’s no need to download java applets or install special launcher programs, so accessing your synchronous sessions is easier for everyone!
How do I add Blackboard Collaborate Ultra to my course?
Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is available to all instructors at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock under the Course Tools menu within each course. Users with Instructor or Teaching Assistant access to a course can access sessions using this link, but an additional link will need to be added to the course menu or within the course content for students to be able to access the session.
To add a link to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra on your course menu:
- Click the plus sign at the top, left of the screen, and select Tool Link from the resulting menu. This will open the Add Tool Link window, where you set the name, type, and availability of the link you’ll be adding to the course menu.
- Name the link and select Blackboard Collaborate Ultra on the dropdown list labeled Type. Be careful not to select other tools with similar names, as they may link to the old version of collaborate.
To add a link to Collaborate Ultra on a content page within your course:
- From the page on which you want to add the link, click the Tools button on the action bar, select More Tools at the bottom of the menu, and click Blackboard Collaborate Ultra on the expanded menu. Be careful not to select other tools with similar names, as they may link to the old version of collaborate.
- On the resulting page, give the link a name and click Submit.
How do I schedule a session?
By default, each course will have a session in Collaborate Ultra labeled “Course Room.” This general session is set to be available throughout the semester, and all students in the course will automatically have participant access.
Since there are no dates to restrict access to the Course Room, students will be able to enter it for the duration of the course, or as long as they are able to access the link to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra on the course menu. You can schedule sessions to appear in Collaborate Ultra in addition to the Course Room, and if you’d rather students only access pre-scheduled sessions, you can disable the Course Room by clicking on the More button and selecting Disable course room from the resulting menu.
Note that you can use this menu to edit the session settings, manage guest access, and view session attendance reports. These options will be present by clicking the More button on the Course Room as well as any session you’ve scheduled.
To schedule sessions in addition the Course Room, click the plus sign at the top, right of the of the scheduling page. If you don’t have any sessions scheduled, you can also click the “Create Session button in the center of the page. This will open the session scheduling pane where you can edit the event details and adjust the session settings.
Editing the Event Details and Session Settings
When editing the Event Details, you can:
- Set the date and time the session starts and ends.
- Create an open session to keep a meeting space that’s available at all times. Repeat sessions on a daily, weekly or monthly basis for meetings that occur regularly.
- Allow students to enter the session before the official start time.
- Type a detailed description of the meeting. This helps students find the right session, particularly if you’ve scheduled multiple sessions to occur on the same day.
When editing the Session Settings, you can:
- Set the default role for participants in the session. Using this setting, you can automatically promote students to the presenter or moderator role when the enter the session.
- Allow recording downloads from the Recordings page as well as on the recording playback page.
- Show the profile pictures of moderators only.
- Allow participants to use audio, video, chat, and the whiteboard editing tools.
- Allow users to join the session using a telephone for their audio.
After you’ve created a session, you can go back and edit the Session Settings to allow guest access. When editing the Guest Access settings, you can:
- Set the default role for guest users.
- Access the Guest Link, which can be used to access the session without logging in to Blackboard.
Don’t forget to click the Save button!
How do I interact with participants in my session?
Upon entering a session, you will see the Collaborate media space, where you will find the tools used to interact with participants grouped in the following places:
1. Session menu: Click the icon at the top, left of the screen to access top-level actions
2. Media space tools: Control your personal audio and video settings here
3. Collaborate panel: Click the purple arrow at the bottom, right of the screen to access collaborative tools
The Session menu
1. Record a session: click here to start and stop recordings
2. Generate dial-in number: click to display the phone number and PIN for your session
3. Report an issue: generate a report to send to the developers
4. Blackboard Collaborate Help: links to help resources on the Blackboard website
5. Learn more about the UI: links to information about the interface on the Blackboard website
Media space tools
1. Profile picture and status: edit your profile picture and set your away status
2. Audio: turn your microphone on and off
3. Video: turn your webcam on and off
4. Handraise: click to raise your hand and alert the moderator that you have something to say
The Collaborate panel
1. Chat: click to open the chat window
2. Participants panel: click to show a list of participants in the session
3. Share content: click to initiate an appshare session
4. Settings: click to adjust session settings
How do I record a session?
Recordings capture the audio, video, and any content that is shared during a session, so that your students can access presentations whenever they need them. Recordings also capture any real time captions or subtitles available during the session. If there are more than one captions available during the session, the recording will capture only the first one.
You can have multiple recordings during one session. If you decide to continue recording a session after you have stopped, a new recording is saved and added to the list of recordings for that session.
Recording a session
Open the Session menu and select Start Recording. The recording camera appears on with a red dot while recording is in progress.
To finish recording, open the Session menu and select Stop Recording.
Recorded sessions are saved as MP4s. Recordings include audio, any content shared or active speaker video, and the captions entered during the live session. If your session had more than one caption track, only the first available one is captured. Other users can stream shared recordings from any device.
Recordings don’t need to be converted into a playable format before viewing. The first time a recording is accessed the conversion begins. It may take a few minutes but once is has been done the recording can be viewed by everybody.
You must allow session recording downloads for each session. Open a session’s Session Settings and check Allow download recording. Any recordings made in this session can be downloaded while downloads are allowed.