Create an online classroom to share presentation material, including delivering a Powerpoint presentation or share your screen to demonstrate resources such as multimedia, webpages and applications. Collaborates communication tools offer a choice of you one or more of the following options for all participants – synchronous audio, video and chat tools. Webinar rooms include a collaborative whiteboard, polling tools and separate breakout rooms for groupwork. Online sessions can be recorded for reviewing or for those unable to attend.
Please note that if you plan to hold large webinars of 250-500 users please first consult your eLearning Advisor or email email@example.com.
Please check the system requirements: In a nutshell, the tool is supported and certified in recent versions of Chrome, Firefox (not for mobile), Safari & MS Edge on Windows, Ubuntu, macOS, Android & iOS. DO NOT use with Internet Explorer. Check system requirements if you are using an older device or if in doubt. NB Screensharing DOES NOT currently work on mobile or tablets.
PLEASE NOTE: If you are using a staff machine to run a Collaborate session and it does not meet the minimum requirements, please raise a ticket on the ServiceDesk and IT Services will assist you in updating your operating system/browser.
Technical best practice
- Take a look at Blackaboards overview of technical best practice
- shut down other programmes running in the background
- update your browser
- try to get a decent broadband connection: connect with a cable, get closer to your router, use a different space if possible/need be
- test your audio, video and headset if using
- personal privacy: adapt your home or workspace for online teaching – test your webcam and what is visible in the background that you don’t want attendees to see; remove pictures, paintings etc if need be; find a suitable space and ensure over affectionate pets and family members won’t feature too prominently in your webinars
- personal preferences: use the left hand control panel to zoom into shared content, minimise the right hand pane to enlarge video or shared content as you see fit
- convert documents into pdfs before sharing. This will enable you to see if there are any issues with the pdf doc before the session. Be aware that any links and animations in your slides will not work if you are using pdfs in your session.
- follow-the-speaker mode automatically enabled for sessions with more than 5 attendees – displays the video of the person speaking
- hybrid sessions – turn off the default to reduce your background noise – an advanced noise reduction technology is on by default to help prevent teaching sessions from being disrupted by background noise, barking dogs, and similar. At times, when you do want the attendees to listen to the music played in the background or hear other participants in the same room (think Hybrid classes), you can also turn off background noise reduction mid-session (the setting can be found in your settings menu when you are in the online room -see the purple tab in the bottom right corner).
Low bandwidth or slow internet connection troubleshooting
Bb Collaborate will monitor the quality of your connection when you’re in a session. If your connection starts to slow at any point, it will change your experience to help you remain functional in the session as long as possible. It may stop showing you other’s webcams in order to maintain a good audio connection, for example. More information: Dynamic Bandwidth Adjustments.
- switch off video & ask your students to do the same
- avoid screensharing, use file sharing instead
- enable phone dial in for your students
- try using Mozilla Firefox browser, it is less system-intensive than Google Chrome
- encourage students with internet issues to try a different device such as a tablet or phone if possible
- encourage students with internet issues to try phoning in
If you’re not sure whether running a webinar is the correct approach for what you are attempting to achieve then we highly recommend the guide below:
How to structure & plan your synchronous session: which activities work
- Reduce the number of slides in your powerpoint. Teaching online can take more time so you will need to make sure you have plenty of time for discussion.
- develop a session plan: think carefully about the activities and how you’ll be facilitating them, ideally you should have a plan B, there will be little room for improvisation
|learning activity||tool||resources||time||delivered by|
|group-based reflection||BB Collaborate – breakout groups, audio sharing, whiteboard||link to resource||25 mins||students|
- video & other media: have students watch videos prior to the webinar if possible (you can use timestamps if you need students to watch from a specific point); alternatively share a link with them to watch in separate windows outside your webinar session instead of sharing your screen. If you need to take students through a video you could try using the share application/screen option (you must be in Google Chrome browser) to play the video. Select the third chrome tab option, select the tab with your video and tick share audio and share. Make sure all students have a good enough connection to be able to view the video.
- annotation & collaboration: if you share files, you may want to use the annotation tools to highlight certain aspects. NB The annotations themselves can be downloaded as a picture (right click < save as picture) such as drawings on a blank whiteboard but annotated documents or pictures will not save. You may find alternative online whiteboards via the sharescreen function helpful if you need greater functionality as the Collaborate whiteboard is relatively simplistic. If student collaboration and annotation is at the heart of your activity, use collaboration tools such as O365/Office online, OneNote (use your University IT account for this) guidance is available, Moodle Board activity, mindmaps etc.
- Example: webinar breakout groups for students to discuss a case study, they record their findings in a shared space (a group Moodle Board, a MS Word template, a class OneNote notebook etc), you can then later share the screen with the class or import a copy of the shared doc into the webinar where possible; alternatively, have students share their screens and analyse outcomes together
- sharing files: think about the best possible way of sharing content – copying and pasting into the whiteboard won’t work! Upload a picture for discussion, or share a PowerPoint slide with a graph, picture etc on it; for more complex, multilayered content, share the URL in the chat and ask students to access in a separate tab, share your screen if need be
- desktop/screen sharing examples: share a learner’s assignment (Word file) and make changes in real time; help students who are having difficulty understanding how to create formulas in Excel, demonstrate the steps for logging into an application, database or resource etc.
- use the in-built polling tool to keep students engaged or for immediate two-way feedback (informs your own practice as well as students’ understanding), create a simple poll in your slide or make use of more detailed polling by creating an online poll with Mentimeter.
- student (group) presentations (posters, slideshow, other artefacts): formative or summative assessment – students upload their presentations or posters into the webinar; you could use a poll to get immediate peer feedback from rest of the class after; each presentation could be followed by a quick Q&A student-led discussion/handing over the floor to students/let them manage their own Q&A using the webinar tools
- think about how to provide feedback on webinar activities: online peer review, group feedback, polling etc.
- Tip! It may help to increase your social presence for students: visit the online chat room early to get a chance to have a bit of informal discussion with students, talk about your day, what they’ve been up to. If you’re having a break by all means you could leave chat open so students can have a talk and catch up while you’re offline.
- Take a look at this blog post on Best Practices for Online Teaching on Zoom, most of these tips will apply to using Collaborate too.
- Include reminders for yourself in your slides, such as a prompt to start recording the session or to restart a recording after a scheduled break.
Smart scheduling & managing expectations
- manage student expectations & set expectations for participation, take a look at the Bbc guide for Session Best Practices
- remind attendees of basic etiquette & conduct:
- ground rules of engagement
- raise hand
- post technical queries into private/group chat
- private chat between students ideally switched off (settings)
- mute mic if not speaking – you can force mute all attendees if need be (no offence)
- no talking over others
- keeping eye contact with the cam if switched on
- share or not share video? Mandatory to share webcam to check what students are doing? Are a more laissez-faire approach?
- when to participate & how to interact: audio, chat, both? Designated Q&A? Breakout discussions? Visual cues? Housekeeping slides?
- is your session being recorded? Make sure students are aware of this and have an opportunity to contact you if they have any concerns about being included in the recording
- update moodle: post a link to the student help guide in moodle underneath the session link, make materials available in moodle in advance, add a link to the session recording to your moodle page after
- session support: if you’re running a large and engaging session for the first time, ask a colleague or your eLearning Adviser to be on standby/help facilitate some of the activities if that’s an option
- do a dry run with a colleague or your eLearning Adviser, test all the features you want to use!
- Try and set up a short practice session with students so you can check any technical issues before running the actual session. Try sharing content, such as video, that you intend to share in the real session. You could turn it into an icebreaker opportunity too.
This is a 2-part process: 1) Create a link to the session on your Moodle page. 2) Create the session and specify the settings using the Blackboard Collaborate scheduler.
PLEASE NOTE: To follow this process you will need to have editing rights on your Moodle course. To be enrolled onto required taught and programme Moodle modules please ask your programme administration team to enrol you.
- Go to your Moodle site and Turn Editing on > Add an activity or resource > select ‘Blackboard Collaborate Ultra’ from the list > Add.
- Enter the session details in the ‘Activity name’ field. Please note that this field will show as a link to the session on your Moodle page.
- Click the ‘Show more…’ option under the Activity name
- Please check that the Shared Secret field has not had a password autofill from your browser. If it has, you will need to delete this and then scroll down and hit the Save and return to course button.
- On your Moodle page, click on the newly created session link (e.g. Online seminars), which opens up the Blackboard Collaborate ‘Sessions’ page.
- Lock course room to ensure your learners go to the correct webinar. To do this (and other session options) hover over the greyed out and tiny three dots in a circle icon. Click to list options in a drop-down box and then click on ‘Lock course room’.
- Click on ‘Create Session’ to schedule your session.
- Type your session name at the top of the column e.g. Seminar – Week 1
- Under Event Details – you can choose to allow guest access by ticking the box against ‘Guest Access’. This is useful if you have any external participants, guest lecturers etc. who don’t have access to the Roehampton Moodle. You choose the type of role that you would like to assign them, then copy the URL under ‘Guest link’ or simply click on the double squares icon next to the URL field and that would allow you to copy the URL in which you can disseminate it to them via an email. NB If an external to the university needs to convene a session their role should be changed to either Presenter or Moderator for full access.
- Select the start and end date and time for your session.
- You can choose to leave the room open indefinitely by selecting No end (open session)
- If you are planning to have reoccurring sessions, tick ‘Repeat session’ and choose whether you wish to repeat this session daily, weekly or monthly. The re-occuring sessions will appear collapsed in the folder, with the next available session appearing at the top of the folder (it will update the dates as the weeks pass).
- We strongly recommend allowing ‘Early Entry’ by 15 min or 30 min to allow participants to test their equipment e.g. Microphone, WebCam.
- Click on the cog icon to go to ‘Session settings’
- Default Attendee Role: The default is Participants however this role means students won’t have as much ability to interact as they won’t be able to upload and share content – for students to have these capabilities you will need to give them presenter access. Check out what the different roles do and change as you see fit for your session. It is possible to set students in a role and then up or downgrade them but this can take a bit of time once you’re in a session. Be aware that the default role applied to students accessing the room via the module. If you share the guest link (see step 5) with students they will join the room with the role assigned for guests.
- Decide on Recording Downloads. Sessions can still be recorded and watched online but they won’t be available for anyone to download unless this box is ticked.
- If you have selected the default role as participant the Participant permissions will allow you to reduce student capabilities further if required.
- It is possible for students to join a session by telephone so that they can listen in and also join the conversation should they have any problems with their mics when accessing via a computer.
- Choose how you intend to allow/moderate private chat messages between participants
- Speak to your eLearning Advisor if you intend to run large scale sessions!
- Ensure you enable the hide profanity in the chat messages
- Scroll down and hit the ‘Create’ button to finalise the room set up.
See previous section under 5 and ensure that the Guest access option is ticked. If an external to Roehampton is convening on their own or in conjunction with UR staff, they should be a at least a Presenter for full access to all features. Also, see 10 in previous section on attendee/student roles.
- Know your way around
- Roles & how to manage participants– mute all participants via the attendee panel (see top left corner settings)
- Displaying videos of your students – Collaborate will automatically show up to 25 videos per page. If you find that this is affecting the quality of the session then you can limit the videos to 4 per page.
- Record your session
- Sharing & annotating content (whiteboard, presentations etc)
- Use the chat
- Engage your students with polls
- Create breakout groups – for further information please see section below
- Sharing side by side/Equal sized content and camera
If the person currently speaking on the microphone is also sharing a camera whilst this content is being shared, their camera will appear as a small image in the bottom right of the main Collaborate screen. Users aren’t currently able to share content and camera at equal size. You can get creative using screen sharing however, but only do this if you’re happy that your attendees are on good internet connections.
- Make sure you’re not currently sharing your video in Collaborate , otherwise the following won’t work
- Open your device’s camera on your computer using a native app, so that it opens as a small window on screen
On a Mac: Open FaceTime, Photo Booth or similar (ensure your Mac is plugged in, otherwise the camera will go into Power Saver mode v. quickly and stop running) – FaceTime is particularly good as it shows the camera as a thin, portrait window
On Windows: Search for and open the “Camera” app
- Resize the camera window and put it in one corner of your screen
- Open the content you’re wanting to share in its native app (eg. PowerPoint, Adobe Reader) and resize and position it on your screen so that it appears alongside the camera app
- Share your computer screen with Collaborate.
To facilitate small group collaboration, you can create breakout groups that are separate from the main room and assign attendees to them (20 groups max allowed with no limit on student numbers in a class of 250 and below, breakout groups not available above 250 students). You can choose between assigning students to a group randomly which is the quickest method of setting up groups However if you need students to be in specific groups then you will need to manually assign them once students have joined the session (it is not possible to set up groups in advance). Manually assigning can take a bit of time with a large group so another option could be to ask students to enter the correct breakout group room themselves.
- To do this after you have gone into the breakout room option, in the collaborate panel > open panel with purple tab in the bottom right corner> share tab (third from bottom) > select breakout groups.
- Select to custom assign the groups, don’t put any students in groups
- Add all the groups you require by click the + under the last group
- Tick the option to Allow attendees to switch groups
- Select start
- You can then ask students to follow the breakout group guidance
- You can also move to a specific group in the same way by going to the attendee panel (2nd in Collab panel) for each group there will be a little door icon which you can select to enter the group. You can move between groups in this way.
- When you are ready to end the breakout session just click on the little square in circle icon next to the breakout group setting in the share tab or pause (see below).
Pause and resume your breakout groups
When working collaboratively in breakout groups, you may need to bring all students back into the main room to give clarifications, or to give instructions for the next step of the work. However, if you stop the group activity to regroup, the group composition gets deleted, the breakout rooms close and the work in progress gets wiped. A new feature allows you to pause the activity instead of stopping it, effectively regrouping all attendees back into the main room in 1 click, without ending the groups. It is then easy to resume the activity and send everyone back to their original group with no setup time and continue working on their whiteboard and files. If you click to access the breakout groups you should see the option to Pause as seen in the image below.
We recommend using Microsoft Teams for holding 1:1’s with your students as it is difficult to ensure other students do not have access to the same sessions you set up for individual discussion. Using Teams will be much easier to manage.
Recorded sessions are compressed and saved as MP4s. Recordings include activity in the live session.
- When other content (such as slides, the whiteboard or someone’s computer screen) IS being shared in the session via “Share Files” then no camera will be recorded
- When other content (slides, etc) IS NOT being shared in the session via “Share Files” the current speaker’s camera/profile picture will show in recording, but no-one else’s.
- Captions entered during the live session or added later by a moderator. Only one caption track is available. If your session had more than one caption track, only the first available one is captured.
- Chat messages in the Everyone channel. Private messages and chat messages and activity in breakout groups are not recorded.
Recordings are stored in the session scheduler. Please be aware it may take some time for the recording to process depending on their length so if you can’t find it check back later.
- From your module click on a Blackboard Collaborate link. In the modules Collaborate landing page click on the tab in the top left corner.
- Access the menu link in the top left-hand corner and select Recordings.
- Please note. The default view shows only recent recordings which covers recordings from the last 30 days. To see older recordings you will need to click on the filter in the top right hand corner and change the filter from’ recent recordings’ to ‘recordings in a range’. This will give the option to search for a recordings between 2 specific dates.
- Next to your recording click on the 3 dots … and go to copy link to retrieve a link to share with students or externals or to add URL to your moodle page for your learners to access.
What if I need to edit bits out of the recording? What if I haven’t enabled recording downloads?
- download the MP4 from the recordings page in Blackboard Collaborate, import the clip into Panopto, edit in and share via Panopto:
- upload your clip into Panopto and edit out the section you don’t want others to watch
- save in Panopto and share to anyone at UR with the link or share with public/externals if appropriate – email out the link or place on moodle
- go back into Blackboard and delete the original recording
- NB If you’ve not allowed recording downloads, you will need to go back to the settings for the session, change the date to sometime in the future and then tick the download recordings option and save. The download option will then appear on the recordings page.
Session attendance report
The Session attendance report provides an overview of when attendees joined and left sessions. It also gives you an idea of how long attendees were present in the session on average.
To access, click on the three little dots next to your session, select View Reports.
Please note that if you enter a Blackboard Collaborate session in student view you will enter the session as a student and continue to enter the same session as a student even after you’ve returned to your normal role.
If you need to join a session as a student, use a guest link to join the session with the role set as participant.
This way you can be in the session as a teacher and also log in as a student for demonstration purposes.