Blackboard Collaborate Interface – Setting up

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Making sure your settings are correct.

The Bb Collaborate audio and video settings window

By default, there will be no video or audio active when you first enter the room. To enable students to hear you and see you if desired please firstly click on the ‘Talk’ button.

The Talk button will now show a microphone icon and this icon will also appear next to your name in the Participant list.

The Bb Collaborate Talk and Video buttons

 If you wish to broadcast a video of yourself, click the ‘Video’ button.

Your default camera (in this case the laptop’s webcam) will start and you will now be broadcasting a video feed.

Showing audio and video being broadcast

If you wish to preview your video prior to broadcasting, click on the ‘Preview video before transmitting’ button and once happy with the video shot click the ‘Video’ button.

The Bb Collaborate video preview button

Notice that as with the Talk button, once video is being broadcast a new (webcam) icon will appear on the Video button and next to your name in the Participant list.

Showing audio and video being broadcast

The steps above describe how to start the broadcast of audio and video assuming that you have a microphone and camera available and that these are the default device for use with Blackboard Collaborate. Should you wish to use different devices (you may wish to use a clip on microphone rather than the default microphone) by clicking on ‘Open the options menu’ you can access further settings that facilitate finer control.

The Bb Collaborate Open Options Menu button

The Bb Collaborate Options Menu

For example, if you are experiencing issues with the broadcast of sound and hearing other’s audio, click on the ‘Audio Setup Wizard’. You will see a list of all of the available audio devices (microphones and speakers) that Collaborate can use to broadcast audio. In this example, there are three microphones (Audio Output Devices) available.

The Bb Collaborate audio setup wizard 1

Double click on the device that you wish to use and on the next screen, click the ‘Play’ button.

The Bb Collaborate audio setup wizard 2

You should hear a recorded message from the speakers that you selected – if not, there will be an issue with either the settings in Windows (check that the selected speakers are not muted) or the hardware (this may require a call to ITMS).

Once the audio output (speaker) test is completed you will be asked to test the microphone – as with the speaker test, Blackboard Collaborate will display a list of available audio input devices (microphones) – double click the one you wish to use and the follow the instructions to ensure that the microphone is working.

The Bb Collaborate audio setup wizard 3

The audio setup wizard will now complete; click the ‘Ok’ button to finish the wizard and return to the default view. The speakers and microphone that were selected and tested during the audio setup wizard will now activate and be in use when you click on the Talk button.

The Bb Collaborate audio setup wizard 4

To access further settings, click on the ‘Open the options menu’ button  and select ‘Microphone Settings’.

The Bb Collaborate Open Options Menu button

Selecting Microphone Settings

This will open a pop up window that provides access to all of the fine tuning settings in Blackboard Collaborate.

Bb Collaborate detailed audio settings

As we navigated here via the Microphone Settings link the box firstly displays the settings that relate to the audio input device or microphone. However, using the menu in the left hand side of this window we can change settings that relate to the following topics:

  • Activity – settings in here change the way in which Blackboard Collaborate notifies the Moderator (you) regarding student activity in the room;
  • Application sharing – these settings change the way in which Blackboard Collaborate behaves when you are sharing an application or your computer desktop via the live broadcast;
  • Audio/video – this is where you will find more detailed settings regarding the microphones, speakers and cameras that are available for Collaborate to use and how they can be fine-tuned with regard to behaviour and quality;
  • General – settings in here enable you to tailor the general way in which the Blackboard Collaborate interface looks and behaves for you and the students who are taking part in the session;
  • In-Session Invitation – this changes the format in which emails are sent to individuals who you may invite to take part in the session once it has begun;
  • Profile  -this is where you may update your own profile with information, a picture and links to other online profiles;
  • Recorder – the only setting in here will prompt you to record your session each time if it is checked;
  • Session – the settings in here relates to the speed of the Internet connection that is being used to broadcast the session;
  • Session Plan – settings here enable us to change the look and feel of the Blackboard Collaborate interface for the students by changing colours and fonts
  • Web Tour – the only setting in here ensures that when we are taking our students on a virtual web tour that any pop up windows are blocked when we are on the web; and
  • Whiteboard – there are settings in here that dictate how the virtual whiteboard behaves.

Note: Clicking the ‘Open the options menu’ button  will reveal further settings such as adjusting the microphone level but in Blackboard Collaborate there are usually multiple ways of changing the same setting and therefore it can often be easier to use other routes than the ‘Open the options menu’ button. For example, to adjust your microphone level, it would be easier to use the slider that appears above the Talk button.

The Bb Collaborate microphone level slider

Also, many of the settings described here can also be accessed via the ‘Tools’ menu in Blackboard Collaborate.

The following settings that appear in the Options Menu are of note:

Maximum Simultaneous Cameras.
clicking this will enable you to control how many video camera feeds can be displayed simultaneously. Should you wish for only your video camera to appear and none of the participants use the slider to select ‘1’ and click ‘Ok’.

Selecting the maximum number of simultaneous cameras

Make Video Follow Moderator Focus and Make Video Follow Speaker.
These settings work together to control whose video feed will be displayed to those who are participating in the session. For example, if there are a small number of participants and they all have a webcam in use you may select ‘Make Video Follow Speaker’ and Blackboard Collaborate will automatically switch the video feed to display the video from the person who is speaking automatically. However, in testing, this feature has proved to be quite a drain on the system and when enabled with a higher number of participants can affect the audio quality.

Selecting make video follow speaker

Send Camera Snapshot To Whiteboard.
Clicking this will take a still photograph of the camera feed and add it to the current whiteboard.
The whiteboard showing a snapshot from the video camera

nextNEXT STEP: The Participant Panel

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