Getting Started in Collaborate

Contents

Overview

Blackboard Collaborate is a web-based conferencing system that allows faculty and students to meet and communicate via voice, video, text, and desktop sharing. Collaborate allows faculty and staff to create virtual classrooms, offices and office hours, and meeting spaces that offer greater opportunities for effective and engaging learning experiences and interactions for online and blended/hybrid learning.

Collaborate is an easy to use system that does not require Pitt faculty and students to install any plugins as it is based on modern web technologies, including HTML 5 and WebRTC. You also do not need to install Java or a desktop launcher program.

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Main Components of Collaborate with Video

Navigating through Collaborate is an easy experience due to its clean interface.

Collaborate Interface Screen with labels

1. Session Menu 6. Raise Hand Option
2. Leave Session 7. Chat
3. Your Status 8. Session Attendees
4. Audio 9. Share Content
5. Video 10. Personal Settings

These buttons will be explored more fully described in the Collaborate Interface page.

The following video from Blackboard (length 2:14) gives an overview of the main features and uses of Collaborate.

 

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Helpful Tips and Guidelines

Before getting started in Collaborate, there are a few helpful tips to follow to maximize the quality of your sessions:

  • Chrome is the recommended browser. Other browsers tend to have issues. See the following on recommended browsers.
  • Use a headset/microphone, not the internal PC microphone or microphone built into a web camera.
  • Use a wired internet connection. A wireless connection is not recommended.
  • Do not run other applications in the background during meetings, particularly web applications (email, chat, Skype, etc.). These compete for CPU and bandwidth to the internet which can cause problems.

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Accessing Collaborate in CourseWeb

Adding a link to Collaborate in the Content Panel of CourseWeb will provide access for yourself and students in your course:

    1. In the upper left corner, click the + button to add a new menu item.Use plus button to add a tool link
    2. Scroll down the menu and select Tool Link.
    3. Under Name, type the name you would like displayed on the Content Panel.
      • Some suggested ideas: Blackboard Collaborate, Online Classroom, Virtual Collaboration Space, or Online Office Hours

      Box for adding Collaborate Tool Link

    4. Under Type, scroll down and choose Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.
    5. Check the box Available to Users so your students will have access to the link.
    6. Click Submit.

    Now a link will appear in your Content Panel as well as your students’ Content Panel for easy access to Collaborate sessions.Adding a link to collaborate in Course Web

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Create A Session

There are two ways to host a meeting: the course room or a session. Course Room or Sessions

The course room is like an open Collaborate session. The course room is a default room that is “always on” and lasts for the duration of the course. This makes it easier for you to use Collaborate in your courses as it also provides you and your students a convenient launch point for impromptu meetings. You can also create individual sessions for specific occasions, such as test reviews, a group activity, and for touring and discussing content in your course. When privacy is a concern, create a new session and restrict access to only the user you need to discuss an issue with.

To create a session:

      1. Click on the Collaborate link in the Content Panel (to create this link see Accessing Collaborate in CourseWeb section above for instructions)
      2. Select the Create Session button. Give the session a name.
      3. Fill out the Event Details menu. These items include:
        • Setting the date and time the session starts and ends. Note that Collaborate uses your computer’s local time zone for session start and end times.
        • Open session or repeat session.
        • Early Entry – allows your students to enter the session prior to the start time.
        • Provide a description – typing a detailed description of the meeting will help students find the right session.
      4. Select Session Settings to decide who can do what in your sessions. These include:
        • Allowing recording downloads from the Recordings page as well as on the recording play back page.
        • Showing the profile pictures of moderators only.
        • Allowing participants to use audio, video, chat, and the whiteboard editing tools.
        • Allowing users to join the session using a telephone for their audio.
      5. Click Save.

      Join A Session

      To join the session, click the session name in the Sessions menu. BB Collaborate will open in a new tab within your browser.

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