Blackboard Collaborate requires a fairly good connection speed if video and audio are to work properly. Before you decide to use this tool, check that all students who will participate have appropriate connections.
Visit the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra page to access setup guides and details instructions.
1. Set yourself up for a good audio and video experience.
Considering the following:
- Good quality sound is essential for a successful Collaborate session.
- A good microphone and speaker should be used. Note that iPhone earphones and microphone do not deliver sound and voice of sufficient quality for teaching in a virtual classroom.
- If more than one participant is in the same room, ask them to mute their microphones to reduce audio reverb.
Other practical considerations:
- Fine-tune your moderator skills by practising with a friend, colleague or family member.
- Ensure that your students are comfortable using Collaborate.
- Run a preliminary session to get them used to the technology if necessary.
- Encourage them to create a user profile, so that everyone starts to get to know each other.
- Ensure that students have the resources they need to configure their computers prior to your session.
- Blackboard Collaborate's Getting Started for Participants guide is a useful document to distribute.
- At the beginning of each session, you might provide a slide explaining how to configure audio and create a user profile.
- If possible, organise to have a second facilitator present during the session. This person could be another teacher, or a student helper. They can:
- Manage technical support questions or troubleshoot problems.
- Manage questions and comments that pop up in the chat window, so you don't have to interrupt your presentation.
- Organise questions for you to address later.
- list relevant information in the chat window (e.g. instructor email address, URL, details of other resources).
- Prepare the content thoroughly beforehand.
- Avoid playing video files in your session.
- Provide links to video assets such as YouTube, in your Moodle course and have the students review these before your session.
- Note that there is a 10MB file upload limit.
- Create instructor notes for yourself about what you want to say and do on each screen.
- Include a note to yourself to start recording at the start of the session—recording is a great way to build reusable learning content.
- Also include suggested questions to promote discussion and interaction.
- Plan to include interactive activities.
- Prepare questions that require students to raise their hands, click an emoticon, respond with a tick or cross in the chat window, or use the whiteboard.
- Practice, practice, practice!
- Give yourself time to practise delivering the content, especially if you're unsure how it will flow.
- A certain amount of multitasking is necessary—there will be times when you must talk and prepare the next slide at the same time.
- Practise with a friend, colleague or family member.
2. Before the session
- Clear your browser cache and your Java cache or restart your computer.
- Join the session early, so that you're there to greet the first students when they join, and to give yourself time to solve any audio or video issues.
- Switch off your mobile phone, email notifications and other computer alerts or electronic devices that might sound or display during the session.
- If you intend sharing your desktop, close all unrelated applications, for privacy and aesthetic considerations.
- Log in to the session from the Moodle Collaborate activity you created.
- Upload your content and set up breakout rooms.
- Upload and test any presentations such as PPT files.
- Rehearse your presentation with a colleague.
- Display a welcome slide for the session. Include:
- the topic for the session
- details on what students should do if they cannot hear or be heard during the session.
- Create a backup plan if something goes wrong during the session.
3. During the session
- If you want to record the session, you must manually start the recording.
- Keep your welcome brief but informative.
- If you don’t want to use your webcam during the session, set up your profile and include an image of yourself.
- The image will display in the AUDIO & VIDEO panel when you are the primary speaker.
Do this by clicking My Settings, clicking the picture box and upload an image of yourself.
- Whether or not the participants have used Collaborate before, spend a few minutes explaining the layout and functionality of the Collaborate windows.
- For best practice, ask them to mute their microphones when they are not talking.
- Be very clear with any instructions you give.
- Check frequently that students understand your material. Use instant polling and publish the results to stimulate discussion. You might involve the whole class in activities using the whiteboard and breakout rooms, then have each group present the results of their work to the class. Or participants can demonstrate what you've taught them using application/desktop sharing.
4. At the end of the session
- Stop the recording.
- Advise participants how to leave the session correctly (Session Menu\Leave Session) in order for the archiving process to begin.
- Download and upload the recording to your Moodle course or Echo360\LR+ Library where you can link it to your Moodle course.
- Reflect on what worked and what didn't work during the session, and why.
- How might you adapt your teaching practice to improve future presentations?
- Consider conducting a debrief with other facilitators (if any) and/or a brief evaluation with the participants. What worked for them? What would they like to see more of?
- Collaborate creates Recording Index entries marking where things happened during the session (e.g. when slides changed, when Application Sharing started. Consider manually adding other index entries, to mark key sections of the recording, such as when the discussion topic changes, or when you set tasks for the students at the end of the session.
- Think about creating extra recordings, either in Collaborate or using Voice tools in Moodle, as tutorials to supplement your live Collaborate Classroom sessions.
- Blackboard Collaborate provide an On-Demand Learning Center. Click the link, then under On-Demand Learning: Web Conferencing click Documentation and recorded training. This takes you to a list of resources, with useful items FOR PARTICIPANTS and FOR MODERATORS.
- These Tips for webinars or virtual training may also give you ideas about how to conduct your Collaborate sessions.