In addition to the Collaborate Course Room, you can create any number of date-restricted sessions. You can choose different settings for each session you create. You can set up a series of re-occurring sessions at regular intervals The settings you choose are not constrained by the settings you applied to the main Course Room.
Setting up your session
Go to Control Panel > Course Tools > Collaborate Ultra.
The Blackboard Collaborate Ultra screen opens.
Click on the Create Session button on the Collaborate Sessions page.
The Create Session panel opens.
Start by entering a name for the session.
The Event Details tab
Guest access is disabled by default, but you can choose to turn this on for specific sessions, as required, by ticking the box beside Guest access.
People who join the session by following a Guest Link are by default given the role of Participant. This will normally be the correct setting, but you can choose to change the default role of Guests from the drop down menu under Guest role.
When you have completed setting up your session and press Create, you will see the Guest Link. Click on the Copy icon (two squares) so that you can send this Guest Link to anyone joining as a Guest (University of Reading staff or students not enrolled on your course, or external users who do not have a University of Reading account).
Other session settings
Now select the Start and End date and time.
If you will be running sessions at regular intervals, you can tick Repeat Session and then specify the details (e.g. recurring every week at 11 a.m on a Monday, for 10 weeks).
It is good practice to let participants access Collaborate sessions early, so they have time to check their connection, and ensure that their audio / video devices are working correctly. You can allow Early Entry up to one hour before the start of a scheduled session.
Click on Provide a description to reveal a box where you can add a description of the session.
This will be visible to students when they access the Collaborate session from within the Blackboard course.
When finished on the Event Details tab, press Create. Then go to the Session Settings tab to view additional settings.
The Session Settings tab
Click on the cog wheel icon to access other settings.
Here you can change the default Role for those attending the session – although the default role of Participant will almost always be the role you want.
By default all four boxes here are ticked. You may wish to disable the ability of participants to share audio and video – you can turn on audio and/or video for all participants, or for a specific user, during the Collaborate session.
Large scale sessions
The maximum size of a regular Collaborate Ultra session is 250 users. If you anticipate having more than 250 attendees, you will need to tick the Large scale session box.
Some functionality is removed for large events – see Collaborate large classs sizes for details.
Tick to sensor offensive words in the chat.
Multimedia – AWS Chime
Blackboard will be moving Collaborate onto a new platform, using Amazon Chime. Currently you can choose whether to use AWS Chime for your sessions. Chime should give you a better and more consistent audio and video experience within the session.
However, due to the Beta nature of Chime, some settings and actions are not currently supported.
Features not yet available in Chime
- Breakout groups
- Session Engagement Insights
- Joining the session by phone dial-in
- Pointer does not appear in recordings
- Large scale sessions (more than 250 attendees)
- Not yet suitable for conducting sessions with accessibility requirements (including captioning)
For full details see The Blackboard Help Pages.
When you have finished applying all settings, press Save.
Editing session details and settings
Once the session has been created, you can edit any of the settings by clicking on the Session options icon (three dots) on the right hand side of the screen.
In order for students to be able to access Collaborate sessions set up on your course you will need to provide them with a link to Collaborate. This is best achieved by adding a Collaborate link to your course menu.
When students access the Collaborate Ultra page in a Blackboard course, the default view provides access to the Course Room, and shows any forthcoming sessions.
Future sessions not yet available to join are greyed out. Any sessions currently open show as ‘in progress’.
Clicking on the session name opens a panel on the right of the screen, with a Join session option.
Read our guidance on how to make online interactive sessions available to students here.