Blackboard Collaborate Ultra: Getting Started

What is Blackboard Collaborate?

Collaborate is a video-conferencing platform used for a variety of scenarios:

  • live interactive sessions online
  • online seminars and tutorials
  • group work
  • a meeting space for oral assessment

See a video tour of Collaborate for a quick orientation before meeting peers or lecturers online.

Collaborate is not the only video conferencing tool used at the university (for example, your lecturer may be using Teams Meetings instead). If you are unsure which platform will be used, please enquire with your lecturer or ask a question via the University RISIS portal.

Getting started with Blackboard Collaborate:

Please check the Blackboard guide Get Started with Collaborate Ultra for help with finding your way around.

Blackboard Collaborate User Interface Tour (Blackboard video)

Unless your lecturer has disabled it, you can make use of the new Gallery view, which enables you to see up to 25 participant videos on screen.

Click on the View icon (four squares) top right to switch between views.

Gallery view isn't currently available in Safari on iOS or iPadOS.

Collaborate gallery view - switch view

See more on the Blackboard help site: Collaborate Ultra Gallery View

  1. Read Blackboard's Collaborate best practices guidance.
  2. Check you are using a supported browser as Collaborate features may differ between web browsers (the recommended browser is Chrome).
  3. Visit this Collaborate test room to check your audio/camera settings and familiarise yourself with the interface. You can also view a video tour of Collaborate.
  4. It is recommended to use a wired, stable internet connection and minimise any other browser-based activity (for example, you may improve your connectivity by closing multiple tabs and pausing any uploading/downloads).
  5. Set up a Profile Picture - this will be displayed when you turn off your webcam during a session.
  6. Check Collaborate accessibility features for adjustments that may enhance your Collaborate experience.

Links to join Collaborate sessions are displayed in your Blackboard module. See How do I join live interactive sessions online? and contact you lecturer if you cannot locate Collaborate meeting links or are unsure which session link to join.

*you may wish to make a note of session times in your University calendar, as a reminder to login to Blackboard and join your session.

For the best user experience, it is recommended to use a laptop or desktop computer. However, it is also possible to join from a tablet or module device; Collaborate is supported on these devices and browsers:

  • Android: Chrome browser
  • iOS 11+: Safari browser

Participating or presenting during a Collaborate sessions:

With breakout rooms in Collaborate, your lecturer can split the class into smaller groups, for example for project work, discussions or shared tasks. Your lecturer will manage the allocation, launching and closing of the groups, and can move between groups to offer support.

  • Breakout rooms are not private. Your lecturer, other module instructors or session presenters can join and leave Breakout rooms at any time. They will see chat history when entering a breakout room.
  • When participating in a breakout room, you can continue to send your lecturer private chat messages as needed.

  • Option 1: Once your lecturer has started the breakout rooms, there will be a shortly delay and you will be automatically moved into the room.
  • Option 2: The lecturer may allow you to move between rooms. Use the door icon, displayed next to the breakout group name, to do so. Your lecturer will inform you when to enter breakout rooms.

Except for ‘recording’, all the features available in the main session space are also available in a breakout room.

How To and Top Tips a quick guide created by Clinical Language Students as part of the Student Partners project 2020.

Using Collaborate for groupwork, outside of live interactive sessions:

  • Option 1: Your module instructor (i.e. lecturer) can enable Blackboard groups and switch on Collaborate in the group dashboard. This will allow only group members (and your lecturer or other module instructors) to join the meeting space.
  • Option 2: Your module instructor (i.e. lecturer) can switch on an ‘open course room’ that can be accessed by any student or module instructor, at any time.

Alternatively, university staff and students can schedule a Teams Meeting from their university Outlook calendar, to meet informally (if recording a meeting with other students, follow recorded sessions – legal guidance ).

Only Collaborate moderators can record sessions. If your Collaborate session has been recorded, see accessing Collaborate session recordings.

Before recording, please see the University policy recorded sessions – legal guidance

Important: if your Blackboard instructor (i.e. lecturer) is providing access to a Collaborate recording for longer than 14 days they are required to transfer the file to Microsoft Stream (the university video hosting platform) and delete the recording from Blackboard.

Troubleshooting and Help:

Need help? If you need support please use the DTS Self Service Portal to contact us.

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