Collaborate Ultra – Moderators guide

What is Collaborate Ultra?

Collaborate Ultra is a web conferencing solution for high-quality virtual classes and meetings. Collaborate Ultra lets you make video calls to groups of people, a bit like Skype. The difference with Collaborate is that it comes with extras designed for education. For example, you have a virtual whiteboard, people can raise virtual hands to ask questions, you can share content with participants, run polls, crate breakout groups and so on. You don’t have to install anything to join a Collaborate session. Take a quick video tour of Collaborate to see how it works.

A full list of tools available to moderators, as well as a visual presentation to help you find your way around the Blackboard user interface can be found in the Blackboard Help pages.

What will I have to do?

As a Tutor or Teaching Assistant you will fulfil the role of ‘moderator’ in the Collaborate sessions you host with your students. These sessions are intended to run as tutorial sessions that are delivered online instead of face to face. So it’s important that you know how to operate the Collaborate tools, and interact with your students effectively, present any materials, but also to give your students any assistance they need to use the Collaborate tools during the tutorial session.

System requirements and support information

Internet Browsers

For the best experience, use Google Chrome or Firefox. Please note Internet Explorer 11 is not supported and other browsers may have limited functionality.  Check Browser Support for Collaborate configurations in different browsers.

Mobile Access

There are currently two apps which work with Blackboard Collaborate: Blackboard for students, and Blackboard Instructor for staff.

Blackboard Instructor App

Blackboard Instructor is a mobile app that enables you to view course content, grade assignments, connect with students in discussions, and launch Blackboard Collaborate sessions. The app is available for iOS and Android mobile devices. It is recommended you download Blackboard Instructor as this allows you to view all your courses to which you are an Instructor within Learn.

Moderating within the App

You are able to moderate a Collaborate session within the App but you will have access to a limited subset of tools. It is recommended to use the browser view of Collaborate for the full range of moderator capabilities.

Getting started with Collaborate Ultra

The first thing to do is become familiar with the Collaborate Ultra user interface and be comfortable using the tools that are available. A good place to start is with the Blackboard help that explains how Collaborate is organised.

Collaborate Test Room

This link is for a Collaborate Ultra Test Room.  You can test to see if you’re able to enter a Collaborate Ultra session before your actual session.

Launch Collaborate Ultra

The Collaborate sessions will be scheduled in Learn already. Just click on the link in your Learn course menu to open the available collaborate sessions.

The sessions are scheduled to allow participants to enter the virtual room 15 minutes before the session starts. This gives them an opportunity to check their camera, mic and settings. This also allows you to have some casual chat with the participants who arrive early and establish some online rapport with them.

Before and During your Collaborate Session

Preparation will help you run a successful collaborate tutorial. You can use the following checklist to help you prepare.

Before your session

At least 1 week before event

  • Make sure you have the Google Chrome browser installed.
  • Check you have a headset as this will give you the best sound quality (do not use the computer’s built in speakers to avoid audio feedback problems).
  • Visit the Collaborate Ultra Test Room.  You can test to see if you’re able to enter a Collaborate Ultra session before your actual session.
  • Check that your tutorial session has been scheduled in Learn, if not you can create the session following the instructions provided, or ask a Learning Technologist at PPLS to assist you.
  • Get the URL of your scheduled session and distribute it to Guest Participants by email or using a Web page.
  • Send participants instructions.
  • Check with Participants if anyone has accessibility needs
  • Familiarise yourself with the Collaborate interface and features (e.g. the Whiteboard, chat and poll tools).
  • Have a look at the Etiquette slides and how you’d like to incorporate these into your presentation. It’s a good idea to present these in the first session you have with students on Collaborate.

15 Minutes before your first scheduled tutorial

  • Enter the virtual rooms – if you launch from within Learn, Collaborate will open in a new window on the browser browser you are already using. Chrome is recommended.
  • Make sure room is set to allow Participants early access to carry out checks.
  • Check your headphones, microphone and video settings.
  • Load / open any files required for your Presentation.

During your tutorial

  1. Welcome each participant as they arrive in the virtual room. This is also an opportunity to ask how they are allow some casual chat while you wait for others to join.
  2. Ask each participant to mute their mic after they have made their greetings, and remind them that they will need to toggle the mic to ‘on’ when they wish to speak.
  3. Ask each participant to practice sharing their video. If the internet connection is weak, or for other reasons, some participants may not want to share their video, in which case it is also OK to switch it off.

If this is the first session you have with these participants, take them on a quick practice of the tools they need to use. For example,

  1. Ask them all to use the raise hand tool and lower their hands afterwards.
  2. Open the chat in the collaborate panel. Type in a request for each participant to include a comment in the chat.
  3. Do an introductory poll, e.g. ‘have you participated in an online tutorial before?’ Ask participants to respond. When all have responded, end the poll.
  4. Make sure Participants are aware of the room etiquette for the session e.g.:
  • Please raise your hand if you want to ask a question or make a comment.
  • Lower your hand when your question is answered or you have made your comment.
  • Mute microphone when you have finished speaking.

If you are recording the session, remind participants that the session is recorded (and remember to select ‘Start recording’ from the Session menu).