Blackboard Collaborate

 
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collaborate_tagBlackboard Collaborate is a virtual synchronous classroom (aka. webinar ) system that is integrated into Blackboard. It enables tutors and students to interact and collaborate in real-time, online. It is similar to how Skype functions (for those who are familiar with Skype). In effect, a tutor can deliver a teaching session online, in which they might show a PowerPoint presentation, share their computer desktop screen, or use a virtual digital whiteboard, and have students interact with this content in real-time from remote locations.

Collaborate includes two-way audio and video support, meaning that students can see and hear the tutor on their computer/devise, the tutor can simultaneously see and hear the students, and students can see and hear each other. All participants in the session can interact with each other.

Where previously face-to-face teaching would have to take place in physical spaces, where all of the participants are physically present. Collaborate allows face-to-face teaching to take place in a virtual space where participants do not have to be physically present; all they need is a computer through which to access the virtual session.

Collaborate is particularly well suited for supporting distance learning, and can be used to conduct virtual presentations and vivas.

tipYou might like to watch this YouTube video as an example of how collaborate functions (duration: 11 minutes)

equipmentTo use the interactive audio and video functions in Collaborate requires access to certain hardware. If using the audio talk back function – a headset (integrated headphones and microphone) is ideal. However, these can be relatively expensive to buy and DMU AV services only have a limited supply for loan. A pair of standard headphones will suffice in order to hear audio interaction, and the built in microphone of your desktop computer should be adequate to verbally communicate in a session. DMU staff  can also use their Lync telephone as a microphone if their built in computer microphone is not functional or adequate.

importantBe aware that running a session from a shared office space may not be an ideal location as noise from others around you can interfere with and disrupt  communication in your session.

 

importantIMPORTANT NOTES – PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING BEFORE USING COLLABORATE . . .

1. If you have not used Collaborate previously, it is recommended that you have a chat with your Faculty ELT Project Officer before attempting to run a Collaborate session

2. Collaborate is NOT a tool for RECORDING presentations or lectures. If you want to do this please use the DMU Multimedia Enhancement technologies.
The recording mode in Collaborate is disabled by default. If you think you might need to use the record function, have a chat with your Faculty ELT Project Officer.

importantIt is advisable that the following message always accompanies a Collaborate session link: Participants are prohibited from capturing (recording) this session, or any part of it on their own device, in the form of still images, audio or video.

3. You should not setup a publicly accessible Collaborate session. If you want to run a public session please discuss this with your Faculty ELT Project Officer first.

4. DO NOT activate the Teleconference function – as any student who uses a phone to call in to a session will incur charges on their phone account. These charges are NOT covered by DMU.

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5. Please read our Hints and Tips on the effective management of a Collaborate session


Step by step user guides

These guides will take you through the process of setting up and delivering a Collaborate session via a Blackboard module

 


Other information

 

System Requirements

Collaborate will only work effectively if the device (computer) accessing the session meets certain technical requirements. Students will need to know this prior to beginning a session so that they can check if their system is compatible. CELT recommends that compatibility information is made available to students on any module where Collaborate is being used.

System requirements for effectively using Collaborate with a computer can be found at :

https://blackboard.secure.force.com/apex/publickbarticleview?id=kAB700000008P8m

importantInteractive online activities require a broadband connection in order to function effectively. Broadband connection speeds can vary depending on a variety of factors too numerous to list here. This means that some students may have a slow connection when accessing and participating in a collaborate session. This could cause a delay in the video link, the audio link, or the use of any of the interactive functions. Such slow connections cannot be improved or rectified by technical support services at DMU as they are wholly dependent on the local systems from where the student is accessing the session.

PLEASE BE AWARE: Accessing a Collaborate session via a mobile device will present a much different user experience than when accessing by a desktop computer. A desktop computer offers the best user experience. Also, due to the range of variations in mobile operating systems and devices, the use of mobile devices presents more potential access problems than with a desktop computer. Therefore we advise that participants DO NOT use mobile devices.

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Student Access

The following video tutorial, created by Blackboard Collaborate, provides a useful resource for students.

It explains the different features of the Collaborate interface.

http://www.brainshark.com/blackboardinc/vu?pi=zGLzYw5XBz35Sgz0

tipYou may wish to consider copying the video link into your Blackboard module and signposting your students to it – as a means of familiarising them with the operation of Collaborate. [How do I do this?]

To be completed . . .

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 Technical Support

Telephone technical support for Collaborate can only be provided during ITMS Service Desk hours (08:00 to 17:00 GMT) – this is an important consideration if you are delivering an online session to overseas participants who are in a time zone which requires you to deliver the session outside of normal GMT working hours.

The ITMS Out of Hours service will not be able to deal with specific Blackboard Collaborate issues

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Hints and tips on the effective management of a Collaborate session

commons Collaborate is ideally suited to small group interaction

The engagement with and management of a virtual classroom requires specific approaches, particularly in terms of managing interactive communication between multiple participants, that being the use of the audio talk-back capability and the text chat function. This interactive communication becomes increasingly more difficult to manage if all participants have the ability to use the audio talk-back and text chat function simultaneously. Ensuring that the participants understand what the communication protocols are for the session, prior to beginning the session, will ensure that the it doesn’t unravel into a chaotic, communication free for all. To this end it is recommended that at the beginning of a session the moderator takes a few minutes to go through the communication protocols with all of the participants.

In a virtual classroom, as is often common practice in a live classroom situation, moderators should inform the participants to raise their hand before they ask a question either via audio talk-back or the text chat function. This can be done using the virtual raise hand tool.

The general principal is: the more participants there are in a Collaborate session the more difficult it is to manage the session, the more likely it is that the system performance will slow down, and the more time you may have to spend helping participants who are having difficulty getting their technology to work.

importantCollaborate is only able to cope with a maximum of 6 (six) simultaneous video and 6 (six) simultaneous audio connections. Any more than this and the speed of the system will significantly slow down and impair the user experience.

 

commonsSuggested participant numbers

As a rough guide . . .

Where using audio as the primary mechanism for simultaneous interactive communication in the session – it is recommended that no more than 6 (six) participants are included in the session. If the audio function is being toggled on for individual participants only when they wish to ask a question then the number of participants can be increased.

If the text chat function is the primary mechanism for interactive communication in the session – it is recommended that no more than 12 (twelve) participants are included in the session.

It is possible to broadcast a class to a larger group using Collaborate. In this scenario the text chat function can be used for students to pose questions during the class. However, due to the numbers of participants it may not be possible to effectively answer all of the questions during the session – e.g. there may be a situation in which there are 15 raised hands awaiting your response; responding to all 15 will take quite some time and could significantly interrupt your lecture/presentation. Therefore when broadcasting a class to a large number of participants it may be necessary to respond to any outstanding questions after the session has finished. To facilitate this the text chat history from a session can be saved.

tipAvoiding echo and feedback in the audio

If you are using your in-built computer microphone to speak in the session you must not use your computer speakers at the same time to listen to the audio from a session as this will create an echo or feedback making it difficult for you to hear the audio. You should always use headphones to listen to the audio if you are using your in-built computer microphone to speak.

commonsView session attendance

You may wish to review attendance for a particular session, to do this:

1. From the Scheduled Sessions list, click the options button and select View Session Attendance

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2. An attendance list will be generated.

collabattend

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questionTroubleshooting and FAQ

Click the headings below to reveal possible solutions

A message appears telling me to update the launcher software. What do I do?

If the following message appears when you launch collaborate

collabupdate

you need to update the launcher software

I can't hear any sound!

Have you given Audio access to the participants?
Are your headphones plugged in?
Are your speakers un-muted?
Is your speaker volume turned up?
Are the participants having difficulty with their audio setup?
Try using the Audio Setup Wizard

I can't see a video of anyone!

Have you given Video access to the participants?
Have they activated their video by clicking the Video button?
Do they have access to/are they using a camera?

I can't get the microphone to work!

Have you clicked the Talk button?
Is your microphone switched on?
Have you selected the correct Microphone?
Try using the Audio Setup Wizard

I can't get the video camera to work!

Have you clicked the Video button?
Do you have a webcam on your computer?
Is a camera connected to your computer?

There's a delay in the audio/video/interactive elements of the session!

If you or any of the participants are accessing a session from on off campus computer – it may well be using a slow internet connection.

Internet connection speeds can vary depending on a variety of factors too numerous to list here. This means that some participants may have a slow connection when accessing and interacting in a collaborate session. This could cause a delay in the video link, the audio link, or the use of any of the interactive functions. Such slow connections cannot be improved or rectified by technical support services at DMU as they are wholly dependent on the local systems from where the student is accessing the session.

There's an echo/feedback coming out of my speakers making it difficult to hear anything!

If you are using your in-built computer microphone to speak in the session you must not use your computer speakers at the same time to listen to the audio from a session as this will create an echo or feedback making it difficult for you to hear the audio. You should always use headphones to listen to the audio if you are using your in-built computer microphone to speak.

PowerPoint won't upload!

If you get an error message when trying to upload a PowerPoint presentation via the Load Content button: open the PowerPoint presentation on your computer desktop and use the Share Application tool to show it

My PDF won't display in the Whiteboard

The whiteboard area can only be used to present PowerPoint – it will not display PDF or MS Word documents. The Load Content button can still be used to share these types of documents as files with the participants.

The participants aren't able to use the text chat function!

The participants aren't able to use the Whiteboard function!

The participants aren't able to share their desktop!

The participants aren't able to use the Web Tour function!

I've lost my connection during a session!

Exit the session and relaunch in the usual way

How do I leave a Collaborate session?

Either click the close icon in the window or select ‘File>Exit’.

Exiting Bb Collaborate

Click ‘Ok’ when prompted and the session will close.

Exiting Bb Collaborate_2

Can I save any of the session content?

I can't see any of my old sessions in the scheduled sessions area!

You will need to set the Search Start Date back to a date that includes previously scheduled sessions – then click the Go button

collabsearch2

 

questionIf you are still experiencing difficulties contact ITMS Service Desk on ext: 6050

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