Best practices for best experience

  • Use a hard-wired (Ethernet) connection, if available. If not available, use a Wifi connection. If using Wifi, try to be as close to the router as possible.
  • Close other programs. Close all programs and streaming services on your computer except for the browser you are using for your Collaborate session.
  • Keep your browser current. Only use up-to-date Internet browsers that are supported by Blackboard Collaborate.  
  • Limit video use. Use video during the session only when necessary.
  • Use supported mobile browsers. If on a mobile device, use a supported mobile browser. For the best experience, use Safari on iOS devices and Chrome on Android devices.
  • Use headphones. Cut down on the background noise and use headphones.
  • Disable Adblockers. Browser Adblockers can turn off your audio and video and can cause buttons to not show up.
  • Record only when necessary. Limit recordings to only sessions that require it.
  • Limit application sharing. Share applications and screens only when necessary.
  • Turn your presentations into PDFs. PDFs put minimal demand on a network. Convert what you plan to share into a PDF and upload it into to Collaborate.
  • Keep sessions short. Record your presentation and share it with your attendees beforehand. Give them time to think on it and use the session to discuss.

Smart scheduling

  • Allow early arrivers. Let your participants join the session early. This gives new participants a chance to get familiar with the room and what they can and can't do. Join the session early yourself and practice using the tools.
  • Be selective with participant permissions. When creating a session you can choose what participant permissions you want to allow in Session Settings. You can turn on or off participants ability to chat, share video, share audio, and draw on shared files or the whiteboard. The permissions are turned off for every participant in the session. If you want to let a participant talk or chat, promote the participant to a presenter.
  • Let attendees know what to expect. Tell attendees how to find the session. Let them know what the session is about. Share any expectations you have from them during the session.
  • Invite guest speakers. If you are having a guest speaker, make them a presenter in your session. Presenters are allowed to share their screens and upload images or presentation files, but can't modify other users' permissions the way a moderator can. Be thoughtful with sharing moderator permissions or join links.
  • Share guest links mindfully. Guest links are public links. Anybody with the link can join your session and take part. Don't share links in public places like on social media. Use the Invite attendee feature to create secure links that can't be shared. If your session is in your course, everyone in the course has secure access to the session that can't be shared.

Session prep

  • Turn your presentations into PDFs. PDFs put minimal demand on a network. Convert what you plan to share into a PDF and upload it into to Collaborate.
  • Make it a collaborative session. Record your presentation and share it with your attendees beforehand. Give them time to think on it. Then use the session to discuss.
  • Have poll text ready. If you plan to run a poll, have the text you want to use ready so you can just copy and paste.
  • Join early. Give yourself time to check your audio and video, if you plan to use them. Upload files you plan to share. Practice using the tools.
  • Give attendees a few minutes to join. Attendees may be running from another session, may be having connection problems, or are learning how to use Collaborate for the first time. Give them a few minutes to join and get settle. Set a timer to let attendees know when the session is going to start.

Accessibility considerations

  • Make your content accessible. Whatever you share, make sure it is accessible. Use Blackboard Ally's accessibility checklist.
  • Share content before the session. Give attendees access to whatever content you plan to share before the session. Allow users the chance to review materials so they can participate more fully during a session. For example, share your presentation files or a recording of your lecture. Give attendees time to think on the material. Then use the session to discuss.
  • Upload presentations to Collaborate. Screen reader users can access text from PowerPoint and PDF files shared in the session. This provides an easy way to follow along as slides change. Moderators and presenters must select Share Files and upload the files to Collaborate for screen readers to access the text.
  • Describe annotations. When you share files or the whiteboard, you can let attendees mark on them. Describe edits for attendees with visual impairments.
  • Provide captions. Provide captions of what is said in the session. Assign someone to be a captioner during the live session. Or add captions to the recording later.
  • Share materials from the session right away. Put recordings, presentations files, and transcripts where attendees can find them and review. Share the material right away. Give students the maximum amount of time possible to review before the next session or any quizzes, tests, and so on.

Facilitate dynamic sessions

  • Limit video use. Use video during the session only when necessary.
  • Limit application sharing. Share applications and screens only when necessary.
  • Record only when necessary. Limit recordings to only sessions that require it.
  • Keep the attendees panel open. You can tell who is away, has their microphone on, or is having network connection trouble. Monitor connection status of attendees to see if anyone may be missing anything. 
  • Introduce yourself. Don't assume that your participants recognize your voice. State your name the first few times you speak. Let them get to know you.
  • Introduce guests speakers. You can invite a guest speaker or encourage group collaboration in your course by promoting any participant to be a presenter or a moderator. Presenters are allowed to share their screens and upload images or presentation files, but can't modify other users' permissions the way a moderator can.
  • Highlight key points in your presentation. Move through presentations using the arrows available. Use the annotation tools on the whiteboard or in presentations to add text, pointers, or different shapes.
  • Include Q&A. Encourage participants to ask questions. As more participants speak, the Ultra experience of Blackboard Collaborate automatically follows-the-leader, displaying the name of the current speaker on the screen.
  • Mute yourself when not speaking. Nothing is more distracting than hearing outside sounds like typing or a side conversation.
  • Mute attendeesMute attendees in large sessions. If you need to, you can also stop participants from sharing their video from Session Settings.
  • Make eye contact. If you are sharing your video, look at the camera and not the session. It may feel weird but it helps participants feel more like they are a part of the session and less isolated.
  • Remove unwanted or disruptive attendees. Point to an attendee in the Attendees panel and select Attendee controls. Select Remove from session.
  • Remove participant permissions. Stop all participants from using their audio, video, chat, or writing on the whiteboard. All participants have the same permissions. If you turn them off and want one participant to speak, promote the participant to a presenter.

Good follow up

  • Share materials from the session right away. Put recordings, presentations files, and transcripts where attendees can find them and review. Share the material right away. Give students the maximum amount of time possible to review before the next session or any quizzes, tests, and so on.

Source

"Web Conferencing Etiquette: Top Tips." - Adobe Connect User Community. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2015.

Collaborate Classroom Management


Classroom management

When a Blackboard Collaborate session is created with the admin interface or the API, any user with the URL can access the session. This is normal behavior as no restrictions beyond the guest URL have been set. Users can freely add a name before joining the session.

Restrict access

You can restrict access to your session. Here's how.

  1. Remove user permissions in Session Settings. User permissions can be enabled by the moderator in-session. Limited permissions stop disruptive users since they won't be able to do anything when joining.

    The permissions are turned off for every participant in the session. If you want to let one participant talk or chat in the session, promote the participant to a presenter.

  2. Use the invitation feature from the admin scheduler. This involves manual work, but ensures that only authenticated users join the session.

    This isn't available to instructors who want to schedule sessions in their online course. Everyone in the course has secure access to the session that can't be shared.

  3. Leverage the Learning Management System (LMS) integration. From the LMS, users join the session using SSO, with their full name and picture. If students try to share the URL with an external, unauthenticated user, the external user gets an error when they try to access the session.
  4. Evolve the current portal to allow the following:
    1. Add users with the API. Collaborate users can be created from a form and validated against your records to make sure that only valid users access the sessions.
    2. Add enrollments with the API. Make sure only the required users can access the right sessions.