Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

Get Started

Schedule and Join Sessions

Manage Attendees

Use Audio & Video

Share Content

Record


Get Started

What is Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and where do I start?

Blackboard Collaborate is a real-time video conferencing tool that lets you add files, share applications, and use a virtual whiteboard to interact with students. Collaborate with the Ultra experience opens right in your browser, so you don't have to install any additional software to join a session.

We recommend that you schedule a one-on-one training with our office or register for a facutly workshop before moderating your first Collaborate Ultra session.

Learn more about using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.

Additional Resources:

What do I need to moderate a Collaborate Ultra session?

To moderate a Blackboard Collaborate Ultra session, you will need:

  • A computer with the Google Chrome or Firefox browsers installed. Learn more about Collaborate Ultra browser support.
  • An Internet connection. (Preferably not wireless, as reliability can vary.)
  • A microphone to capture audio. A combined headset and microphone or an echo-canceling microphone works well to avoid echoing and feedback.
  • A webcam if you plan to share video.

Learn more about moderating Collaborate Ultra sessions.

Additional Resources:

Where can I get help?

For assistance with Blackboard Collaborate Ultra you can contact the Instructional Technology Lab Monday through Friday, 9:30 am – 5:30 pm. 

Faculty Workshops on Collaborate Ultra are also offered regularly.

Additional Resources:

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Where can students get help?

Students can contact GW Information Technology for Collaborate Ultra assistance.

Additional Resources:

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Schedule and Join Sessions

How do I use Collaborate Ultra in my course?

There are two ways you can use Collaborate Ultra in a Blackboard course.

  1. You can use the Course Room, which is an open Collaborate session dedicated to your course. Learn more about the Collaborate Utlra Course Room.
     
  2. You can schedule sessions for a specific date:
    1. Go to the Control Panel of your Blackboard course.
    2. Click Course Tools and select Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.
    3. Click Create Session.
    4. Type a meaningful name for the session.
    5. Set the start and end date and times of the session. You can also choose to keep a session open or repeat it.
    6. Set an Early Entry point. This is the period of time before the start of the session that users can join.
    7. Optionally, open Session Settings and select what students can do in the session. Learn more about Collaborate Ultra Session Settings.
      • By default, anyone with a participant role can share their audio and video, post chat messages, and draw on the whiteboard and any shared files.
    8. Select Save.

Learn more about creating a Collaborate Ultra session.

Additional Resources:

What is the Course Room?

The course room is an open Collaborate session dedicated to your course that is always available. It can provide you and your students a convenient launch point for classes or impromptu meetings. Students can join the course room without the instructor.

If you do not want to use it, you can lock the Course Room to prevent students from accessing the wrong session.

Learn more about using the Collaborate Ultra Course Room.


    How do the students and I join a scheduled session?

    For the best experience, you should join using the Chrome or Firefox browser.

    To join a session:

    1. Click on Tools in the course menu and select Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.
    2. From there, they'll click on the title of the session and choose Join Session.
    3. The session will open in a new browser window or tab.

    You can also provide a link to Collaborate Ultra directly on the Course Menu for quick access:

    1. Click the Add Menu Item icon Image of the Blackboard Add Menu Item icon at the top left corner of your Course Menu.
    2. Choose Tool Link.
    3. In the drop-down menu, choose Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.
    4. Enter a Name and check the box next to Available to Users.
    5. Click Submit. Students aren't automatically notified about the new session so it is helpful to send students a reminder about the session with details on how to find it.

    Learn more about joining Collaborate Ultra sessions.

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      Why can’t I click on the session I just created?

      You may be trying to access it too early. Check that you are within the date, time, and early entry parameters set for the session. All users can access scheduled sessions at least 15 minutes before the set start time; however, this can be increased (or disabled) at the instructor’s discretion for up to an hour.

      Learn more about Collaborate Ultra Session Settings.

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      Can I use a mobile device to join a session?

      Yes, you can use the Blackboard Instructor app to join a Collaborate Ultra session. The app is available for iOS and Android devices. Students can use the Blackboard Student app to join a Collaborate Ultra session.

      The following Collaborate Ultra features are NOT available when using the Blackboard Instructor app:

      • Session creation
      • Breakout group creation
      • Make a participant a moderator or presenter
      • Closed captioning
      • Polls

      To join a session from the app:

      1. Install the Blackboard Instructor app.
      2. Open the Blackboard Instructor app.
        • If you aren't already logged in, you'll be prompted to provide your university and Blackboard username and password.
      3. Click on the name of your course.
      4. Choose Collaborate in the list of course materials.
      5. Click the session name to join.
        • If prompted, allow the Blackboard Instructor app access to your camera and microphone so you can share audio and video.

      Learn more about using Collaborate Ultra in the Blackboard Instructor app.

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        How do I end a session?

        You can simply close your browser tab or window to end the session.

        Before leaving, though, you may want to confirm that all participants have exited the session. If any participants remain, you can remove them. Select the Moderator Controls icon Image of the Collaborate Ultra Moderator Controls icon next to their name and select Remove from session.

        Learn more about removing attendees from a Collaborate Ultra session.

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        Why won't the Collaborate Ultra page load?

        If the Collaborate Ultra page does not load in your course and you instead see a purple spinning wheel, it is most likely because 3rd party cookies are being blocked by your browser, preventing Collaborate Ultra from loading properly.

        To change this option in Google Chrome:

        1. In the Chrome browser window, go to chrome://settings/cookies.
        2.  Choose to Allow all Cookies.

        Manage Attendees

        Where can I find students in the session?

        To view session attendees, open the Collaborate panel Image of the Open Collaborate Panel icon and select the Attendees icon Image of the Collaborate Ultra Attendees icon. You can select the Moderator controls icon Image of the Collaborate Ultra Moderator Controls icon next to an attendee's name to change their role, mute their microphone, or remove them from the session.

        On the Attendees Panel you see:

        Learn more about managing attendees in a Collaborate Ultra session.

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        Can I invite a guest from outside GW to join the session?

        Yes. Guest access is off by default to limit access to authenticated attendees; however, you can choose to allow guests to join your session as participants, presenters, or moderators

        Anyone with the guest link can join the session. Guests don't need to sign in or be enrolled in your Blackboard course to join.

        To copy the guest link after the session has been created:

        1. Go to the Control Panel in your Blackboard course, click Course Tools, and select Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.
        2. Find the session name, select the Session controls icon Image of the Collaborate Ultra Session Controls icon, and select Edit Settings.
        3. Under Event Details, check the box for Guest Access.
        4. Click Save at the bottom of the panel.
        5. Find the session name, select the Session controls icon Image of the Collaborate Ultra Session Controls icon, and select Copy guest link.
        6. You can then email the guest link to your guest(s) before the session.

        Learn more about inviting guests to a Collaborate Ultra session.

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        What can students do in the session?

        By default, students will enter a session with Participant privileges. Anyone with a participant role is allowed to show their profile picture, share their audio and video, post chat messages, and draw on the whiteboard and shared files. However, you can change an attendee's role to moderator, presenter, or captioner.

        Learn more about Collaborate Ultra Attendee permissions.

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          How do I assign students to breakout groups?

          To facilitate small group collaboration, you can create breakout groups that are separate from the main room and assign attendees to them. Breakout groups have their own private audio, video, whiteboard, application sharing, and chat. Any collaboration that takes place in a group is independent of the Main room (and other groups) and is not captured in a session recording.

          Additionally, Collaborate stops recording your session if all attendees leave the main room to join breakout groups. You can start your recording again from the Session Menu when one or more attendees return to the main room.

          From within a Collaborate Ultra session:

          1. Open the Collaborate panel Image of the Open Collaborate Panel icon and click the Share Content iconIcon to share content.
          2. Select Breakout Groups.
          3. Assign groups. Select Randomly assign or Custom assignment.
            1. Randomly assign: Collaborate creates groups and randomly assigns attendees for you. (Note: Randomly assign is only available when there are four or more attendees.)
              • If you want to be in a group, select Include moderators in group assignment.
              • You can change how many attendees are in each group. Select the number of groups from the Number of Groups menu.
              • If you don't like how the attendees are grouped, select Reassign attendees.
            2. Custom assignment: Create your own groups.
            • Assign attendees to a group. You can select the attendee's options menu and select the group. You can also select the attendee and drag them to the right group.
            • Select Create a new group to add more groups.
            • You can create up to 20 groups. Breakout groups is only available in sessions with 250 or fewer attendees. There is no limit to the number of attendees you can put in each group. However, we recommend spreading attendees out evenly over your groups.
          4. Optionally, select Allow attendees to switch groups, if you want attendees to be able to move to another group on their own.
          5. Select Start to begin your breakout groups.

          Additional Resources:

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          Can I see who attended a session?

          Yes. The Session attendance report provides an overview of when participants joined and left sessions. It also gives you an idea of how long participants were present in the session on average.

          1. Go to the Control Panel of your Blackboard course.
          2. Click Course Tools and choose Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.
          3. Find the session you want to see a report on. Widen the date range if necessary.
          4. Select the Session controls icon Image of the Collaborate Ultra Session Controls icon and choose View reports.
          5. Click View Report Image of Collaborate Ultra View Session Report icon next to the report you would like to open.

          Learn more about Collaborate Ultra session Attendance Reports

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          Can Collaborate Ultra track attendance and send scores to the Grade Center?

          When you enable Attendance Reporting, Collaborate Ultra tracks if a student is present, late, or absent from a session based on grading criteria you set and then sends that information to the Attendance tool.

          Attendance from each Collaborate session is counted in the students' average attendance in the course, which can be used in calculating student grades.

          If you don't enable attendance reporting, you can still view session attendance information in the Session Attendance Report.

          To enable Attendance Reporting:

          1. Go to the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra page, click Create Session, or click on the name of a previously created session.
          2. In the session panel on the right, click on Attendance ReportingIcon for Collaborate Ultra Attendance.
          3. Check the box to Share attendance information with LMS.
            • If necessary, adjust the Late after and Absent after minutes. (If a student is marked late, they will only receive 50% of the attendance points for that session, if they are marked absent they will earn 0 points for that session.)
            • If necessary, adjust the Required time in the session. (You can set this threshold to anything you'd like from 0-100% of the session. This means that students must be present in the session for at least that amount of time or are marked absent and receive no points for the session. You can set this to 100% to require students to be in the session the whole class.)
          4. Click Save at the bottom of the panel. Now Blackboard will automatically report Collaborate Ultra session attendance to the Attendance tool based on the criteria you just set.
          5. You can view the students' individual session attendance information on the Attendance tool page (Control Panel > Course Tools > Attendance).

          Learn more about Collaborate Ultra attendance reporting.

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          Use Audio & Video

          How do I mute someone’s microphone?

          Moderators can mute individual attendees or everyone in a session. This includes attendees using the Blackboard app or the Blackboard Instructor app. Muted attendees see a notification telling them that the moderator has muted their microphone.

          • Mute individual attendees: From the Attendees panel, point to an attendee with their audio on. Select Moderator controls icon Image of the Collaborate Ultra Moderator Controls icon. Select Mute.
          • Mute all attendees: Select More options icon Image of the Collaborate Ultra Attendees Panel More Options icon at the top of the Attendees panel. Select Mute All.

          Learn more about managing Attendee Permissions in a Collaborate Ultra session.

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          Why can’t students hear me?

          • Verify that the microphone icon at the bottom of the session is on Image of the Collaborate Ultra microphone icon. If not, single-click it to begin sharing your audio.
          • Verify that you are using the latest version of your browser. If you are not, update your browser.
          • Verify that the browser has permission to access your camera and microphone. If you do not see the microphone icon, a moderator may have disabled this function. A moderator must enable audio permissions for you to share your audio.
          1. Open the Collaborate panel Image of the Open Collaborate Panel icon and click the My Settings icon Image of the Collaborate Ultra My settings icon.
          2. Click Set up your camera and microphone and follow the prompts to test your audio and video.
          • If using Chrome, Chrome uses your computer's default speakers. Check that the correct speakers are selected for your OS.
            • On a Mac go to Apple > System Preferences > Sound.
            • On Windows go to Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Sound.

          Learn more about troubleshooting a Collaborate Ultra session.

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          Can I use my phone for audio instead of a microphone?

          1. Open the Session Menu using the icon Image of the Session Menu icon in a Collaborate Ultra session at the top left of the screen.
          2. Select Use your phone for audio.
          3. Call the number listed and enter the personal identification number (PIN) when prompted.
          • Note: You are given a unique PIN to help the session identify who is speaking. When you enter the PIN, the audio from your phone is paired with your Blackboard account. You cannot use this PIN in another session or share it with another user. Your PIN will stop working when the session ends.
          1. When you are connected, the microphone icon changes to a phone. Others also see a phone icon by your name in the Attendees panel. You are not muted when you first call in using a phone. Everyone can hear you immediately. Use the phone icon near the bottom of your screen to turn your audio on and off or press Alt + M.

          Image of the Collaborate Ultra audio icons for telephony

          Learn more about using audio and video in a Collaborate Ultra session.

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          Share Content

          What can I share in a session?

          Files

          • You can upload GIF, JPEG and PNG images, PDF files, and PowerPoint presentations. After joining a session, you can upload the files you want to share at any time. The files you upload will stay in the session until deleted.   

          Desktop & Applications

          • You can also share an application or your desktop screen to show more details. When sharing applications, use the most up to date Chrome or Firefox browser. In Chrome, you will need to add the browser desktop sharing extension to share applications in Collaborate sessions. No desktop sharing extension is needed for Firefox.

          Whiteboard

          • Collaborate with your students using a blank whiteboard. Open a blank whiteboard to draw on or just jot down notes.

          To begin sharing, open the Collaborate panel Image of the Open Collaborate Panel icon and select the Share Content icon Image of the Collaborate Ultra Share Content icon. From there, choose what you’d like to share.

          Learn more about sharing content in a Collaborate Ultra session.

          Additional Resources:

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          How do I share a PowerPoint presentation?

          To begin sharing:

          1. Open the Collaborate panel Image of the Open Collaborate Panel icon and select Share Content Image of the Collaborate Ultra Share Content icon.
          2. Select Add Files Here and browse your computer or drag a file into the box to upload it.
          3. Select Share Now when you're ready for students to see the file. If you are recording your session, allow 8 seconds for the recording to include your shared file before moving on.

          With this sharing method, PowerPoint narration and animation features will not be retained. If you want to retain these features, you can instead run your presentation in PowerPoint and share the application in Collaborate.

          Learn more about sharing PowerPoint presentations.

          Additional Resources:

          Are there limits to how many files I can upload?

          You can upload GIF, JPEG and PNG images, PDF files, or PowerPoint presentations of 60 MB or lower to your session. Multiple files can be uploaded, however, the total size allowed is 125 MB for any particular session.

          Learn more about Sharing Files in a Collaborate Ultra session.

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          How do I stream videos during a session?

          You can share videos from sites like YouTube or open video and audio files you have saved on your computer. You must use the Chrome browser to share audio and video files.

          First, open the video in the Chrome browser. Then, to share the video with attendees:

          1. Go to the Collaborate Ultra session, open the Collaborate panelIcon to open Collaborate Panel, and select the Share Content tabIcon to share content.
          2. Select Share Application/Screen.
          3. Select the Chrome Tab option. (Note: If you are on Windows, you can also select Entire Screen.)
          4. Select the Share audio checkbox.
          5. From the list, choose the tab with the video you want to share.
          6. Select Share.

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          Why do I see infinite windows when sharing an application?

          When sharing an application or screen, it is possible to produce a tunnel view, or infinite-window effect inadvertently. This will occur when the screen or browser that is selected for sharing is displaying the session at the time.

          There are some ways to avoid this behavior, such as:

          • If two or more monitors are available, ensure that the window hosting the Collaborate session is moved off of the screen that will be shared before initiating a screen share.
          • Share an individual application as opposed to the entire screen.
          • Before sharing the browser that hosts the Collaborate session, open a new browser window to use for shared content.
          • If you have multiple browsers installed, use one to host the session, and one to host the shared content.

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          How do I add a profile picture?

          1. Open the Collaborate panel Image of the Open Collaborate Panel icon and select the My Settings icon Image of the Collaborate Ultra My Settings icon.
          2. Click the silhouette image Image of the Collaborate Ultra default profile image and then select Upload to browse your computer and upload a picture. 
          3. Use the blue box to select the area of the picture you want to use and then select I Like it
          4. Check the box next to Always use this profile picture to use this picture for every session.
          5. Click Save.

          Learn more about adding a profile picture to Collaborate Ultra.

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          Record Sessions

          How do I record a session?

          After joining the session, open the Session menu Image of the Collaborate Ultra Open Session Menu icon and select Start Recording. The recording camera appears with a red dot while recording is in progress. To stop recording, open the Session menu Image of the Collaborate Ultra Open Session Menu icon and select Stop Recording.

          Additionally, Collaborate stops recording your session if all attendees leave the main room to join breakout groups. You can start your recording again from the Session Menu when one or more attendees return to the main room.

          Learn more about recording Collaborate Ultra sessions.


          What is included in the recordings?

          Recordings include audio, any content shared or active speaker video, and the captions or chat entered during the live session.

          What is said or viewed in a breakout room isn't captured in recordings. Additionally, Collaborate stops recording your session if all attendees leave the main room to join breakout groups. You can start your recording again from the Session Menu when one or more attendees return to the main room.

          Learn more about recording Collaborate Ultra sessions.


            Can I start and stop recording during a session?

            Moderators can start and stop a recording anytime during a session. You can have multiple recordings during one session. If you decide to continue recording a session after you have stopped, a new recording is saved and added to the list of recordings for that session.

            Open the Session Image of the Collaborate Ultra Open Session Menu icon menu and select Start Recording. The recording camera appears on with a red dot while recording is in progress. To stop recording, open the Session menu and select Stop Recording.


            How long does it take for the recordings to become available?

            The recording should be available for viewing within minutes of completing the recording for both you and the students. However, during times of high usage it can take as long as double the length of the recording to become available.

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            Where do I find recorded sessions?

            1. Go to the Control Panel of your Blackboard course.
            2. Click Course Tools and choose Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.
            3. Click the tool menu Image of the Collaborate Ultra tool menu icon at the top left of the page and select Recordings.
            4. Widen the date range if necessary.
            5. Click the name of the recording you’d like to play and select Watch now.

            Learn more about how to find Collaborate Ultra session recordings.

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            Can the session recording be downloaded to view offline?

            Yes, instructors can always download session recordings, but you can also allow students to download them as well.

            To download recordings:

            1. From the Sessions screen, click the tool menu Image of the Collaborate Ultra tool menu icon near the top left of the page and select Recordings.
            2. From the Recordings screen, find the recording. Widen the date range if required.
            3. Click the Recording Options icon Image of the Collaborate Ultra Recording options icon and choose Download. A .mp4 file will then be downloaded to your computer.

            To enable recording downloads for students:

            1. Go to the Control Panel of your Blackboard course.
            2. Click Course Tools and choose Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.
            3. On the Sessions page, find the session, select its Session options menu Image of the Collaborate Ultra Session options icon, and choose Edit settings.
            4. Go to Session Settings.
            5. Check the box next to Allow recording downloads.
            6. Click Save.

            Learn more about enabling recording downloads.

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            Can I change the name of a recording?

            1. Go to the Control Panel of your Blackboard course.
            2. Click Course Tools and choose Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.
            3. Click the tool menu Image of the Collaborate Ultra tool menu icon near the top left of the page and select Recordings.
            4. Widen the date range if required.
            5. Select Recording Options Image of the Collaborate Ultra Recording options icon and choose Edit name.
            6. Type in a new name for the recording.
              • Note: The recording name always begins with the session name. Edits to the name change the text after the backslash (/) only.
            7. Click Save.

            Learn more about editing Collaborate Ultra session recording names.

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            Faculty Guides