Unless there has content uploaded in advance, when entering a Blackboard Collaborate room for the first time there will be a single blank page displayed in the moderator view. The main, large area that is displayed is commonly known as the whiteboard.
Toward the top of the screen, there are three icons – these switch the view for the moderator and the participants between ‘Whiteboard’, ‘Application Sharing’ and ‘Web Tour’.
This is the main area in which we will display content and encourage those participating in the session to interact. Using the ‘Load Content’ button we can add PowerPoint slides to the whiteboard and present these.
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 documents as files with the participants.
Clicking Load Content will open a browse window where we can navigate to our file for importing. Click on the desired file and click on ‘Open’ to import it.
Blackboard Collaborate will take a few seconds to import and convert the content and the Page Explorer window will be displayed once the content is loaded.
Page Explorer shows a preview of each of the slides which have now been created as an independent page on the whiteboard. Notice that at the top of the list there is a ‘Public Page’; this is the default blank whiteboard page that Blackboard Collaborate creates for all rooms. If not needed, this can be deleted by alternate clicking on it in the Page Explorer window and selecting ‘Selected Pages>Delete’.
The Page Explorer can now be closed and the first slide or whiteboard page is displayed.
As mentioned, there are often multiple ways to achieve the same action in Blackboard Collaborate. For example, we have seen how to delete a whiteboard page using the Page Explorer but this can also be done by clicking either the ‘Delete Page’ link or the menu icon followed by ‘Delete Page’ toward the top of the screen.
Similarly, clicking the ‘New Page’ link will insert a new, blank whiteboard page into the whiteboard.
The whiteboard content can be navigated using the tools that appear toward the top right hand side of the screen. These buttons firstly enable the moderator to move forward and backward within the slides/whiteboard pages and to jump to a specific slide/page using the drop down style menu.
Secondly, the ‘Follow’ box can be used to ensure that the participants are always seeing the same slide/page that the moderator is displaying and the ‘Explore Mode’ can be used to create a scenario whereby the participants see a specific page/slide whilst the moderator is able to explore the rest of the whiteboard content without showing this to the participants until ready. These two tools work together as the moderator can uncheck follow to freeze the participant’s displays and then skip forward or backward a few slides before checking follow which will force the participant view to change without the participants seeing the slides in between.
Finally, the last button on this toolbar will open the Page Explorer window.
When working with whiteboard content, both the moderator and the participants can have the opportunity to annotate imported slides/pages or new pages that may have been inserted. This is achieved by using the whiteboard tools.
With the whiteboard tools enabled, participants and moderators are able to:
|Select objects that may have been drawn on or added to the whiteboard page;|
|Add icons that point out key information by placing shapes on the whiteboard. Press and hold this button for a range of shapes;|
|Handwrite on the whiteboard page. Press and hold this button for highlighter options;|
|Type on the whiteboard page. Press and hold this button for font options;|
|Draw a solid rectangle or with press and hold an ellipse shape;|
|Draw a rectangular box or with press and hold an ellipse;|
|Draw a straight line on the whiteboard page;|
|Take and add a screen shot to the whiteboard page; and|
|Place a piece of clip art on the whiteboard page.|
Using the whiteboard tools we (moderators and participants) can annotate and augment the imported content and we can also provide blank canvases for group interaction. For example, I may want to highlight a key bullet point on a slide whilst delivering and then provide a blank page for my participants to take 5 minutes to add text to inform a follow on discussion.
After clicking the ‘Application Sharing’ icon the view will change from the default whiteboard view to the Application Sharing view.
Here we can choose to ‘Share Desktop’ or we can share specific applications that we may have open. If the desktop is shared, participants will see anything that the moderator does on screen. However, if a specific application is shared then only this application will be broadcast and this can help with potential privacy issues when moving between applications whilst sharing.
Once the choice is made, click the ‘Share’ button toward the bottom of the window. A notification will be displayed and after clicking ‘Ok’ Blackboard Collaborate will move to a smaller window and the moderator can move on with the software demonstration etc. that required the sharing to begin.
To exit sharing, move back to the now smaller Blackboard Collaborate application and maximise the window. Click on either ‘Pause Sharing’ or ‘Stop Sharing’ as desired.
The term web tour is used to describe a scenario whereby the moderator (or participant if permission has been granted) displays webpages and the rest of the room sees this through Blackboard Collaborate following the moderator’s path.
To open the Web Tour view, click on the Web Tour icon. You will be prompted to enter a URL in the address field and ‘hit return to start a Web Tour. The screen grab below shows the DMU home page in the Web Tour view as seen by the moderator.
With ‘Follow Me’ checked, as the moderator navigates around the web the view that the participants see will change and follow accordingly. Alternatively the moderator could uncheck Follow Me whilst browsing for other content and then re-check Follow Me once ready to share the new page with the participants.
The Options Menu that appears next to Follow Me in this view provides access to tools that will open the current URL in the moderator’s default web browser and also provides the opportunity for the moderator to share the URL as text in the Chat window for participants to click.
The ‘breakout room’ is used in Blackboard Collaborate to describe a secondary virtual space in which participants can engage in virtual group activities. The moderator can open as many breakout rooms as required and send participants to breakout rooms to complete the required activity. The moderator is able to move between breakout rooms and each breakout room is equipped with the same tools as the main room for the participants to work with. Once the virtual small group activity is completed, the moderator can bring whiteboard content that may have been created within the breakout room(s) to the main room for sharing with the wider group.
The create breakout room(s) click on the Options Menu in the Participant list and select ‘Create Breakout Rooms’.
A small window will open and using the options presented you can decide what the rooms will be called, how many breakout rooms are required, how Blackboard Collaborate may distribute the participants and whether the moderator(s) should be included in the distribution. Once ready, click the ‘Create’ button.
In the participant list there will now be a representation of the new breakout room(s).
By clicking on the Options menu for each room the moderator is presented with a number of options.
- ‘Return to Main Room’ will move all of the participants from the breakout room back to the main room
- ‘Copy Whiteboard to Main Room’ will place a copy of the breakout room’s whiteboard content on the main room’s whiteboard
- ‘Enter Breakout Room’ enables the moderator to enter the breakout room to interact with the participants that have been moved to this space
- ‘Rename Breakout Room’ provides the opportunity for the moderator to rename the breakout room
- ‘Close Breakout Room’ closes the breakout room and moves all participants back to the main room
When moving between breakout rooms and the main room, Blackboard Collaborate will notify the moderator and participants as they are moved between the virtual spaces.
Once in a breakout room, the tools and view are the same as the main room with one addition. In the moderator view, there will be a new button in the participant list which will be labelled with the breakout room’s name.
From here the moderator can move around the different breakout rooms or return to the main room. The moderator can also take global actions regarding the breakout rooms and their respective whiteboard content.
Polling and quizzes.
In the participant list there is a button that enables moderators and participants to answer multiple choice type questions by clicking a response.
The moderator can change the type of responses that are required by clicking on ‘Tools>Polling>Polling Type.
Here, the moderator can select from the options presented to ensure that the students (participants) are presented with appropriate choices to respond to the question being asked.
Also, in this menu, the moderator can respond to the poll themselves, publish the results of a poll to the main room’s whiteboard, lock the responses so that participants cannot change their response and toggle whether the responses are visible (the participants can/cannot see each other’s responses).
When polling, in the moderator view, a tally of the responses is displayed in the participant list and each participant’s response is also detailed.
Using the ‘Clear’ link the moderator can clear the responses to the poll.
The Blackboard Collaborate Interface can be used to create tests/quizzes that can be used during live sessions, saved and imported. If you are a PC user, these functions are accessed using the Test Manager. For Mac users, the same functions are accessed using the Quiz Manager.
1. In the Blackboard Collaborate interface, click on Window in the toolbar, then on Show Test Manager.
2. The Test Manager Window will open. Click on the star icon to create a new test.
3. Insert a name for your test.
4. Click on the question mark with a green plus sign icon to add a question to the test.
5. Type in your question.
Multiple Choice Tests
1. Click on the 3 circles with a green plus sign icon to add a multiple choice answer to the current question.
2. Type in your answer.
You can delete answers using the bin icon to the right of the answer.
You can select whether this is a correct or incorrect answer by clicking on the cross to the left of the answer.
You can keep adding multiple choice answers (up to 16) by clicking on the icon.
You can change the order of answers using the arrow icons to the right of the answer.
Short Answer Tests
1. Click on the A with a green plus sign icon to add a short answer to the question.
2. A blank space will appear to type your answer into. You can delete the short answer area using the bin icon.
Adding More Questions
1. Click on the question mark with plus sign icon to create further questions.
2. A new blank area will appear for each new question. You can toggle between questions using the controls to the left of the question title.
A large number of questions can be included.
Once you have finished working on your test, click on the Save icon
Your saved tests will be visible in the Test Library for the duration of the session only.
It is also possible to save tests as vcq. files in Excel: these tests can then be imported into Blackboard Collaborate sessions using the Load icon.
1. In the Test Library, click on the Save Tests to a File icon.
2. This window will appear: select the tests that you wish to save, click Save.
3. Save your test as a .vcq file.
Click ‘Ok’ when prompted and the session will close.
It is possible to Save Collaborate content, such as Quizzes, Text Chat, Whiteboard Pages, Participants List.
1. From within a Collaborate session open the File menu and from the Save drop down menu, select the content you wish to save
The file will be saved to your local computer.