Blackboard Collaborate is a system that allows participants to collaborate online in real-time (synchronously). It is available through the module and programme coursesites on the Blackboard VLE (virtual learning environment). For information on how to access it, see Blackboard Support’s Web Conferencing page.
It is particularly useful for delivering online (or virtual) classroom sessions (also called webinars) to distance and work-based learning students. It is being deployed by a number of programmes across UWE, including the distance learning MSc Real Estate Management, which started in September 2013.
Blackboard Collaborate works on desktop PCs and Macs, as well as mobile devices such as iPads, iPhones and Android tablets and phones. Once logged in to your Collaborate session you will have access to a range of tools to support your learners including:
- An interactive white board
- Communication tools, including voice and video over the internet, chat rooms and breakout areas
- Session recording for students to watch and review again
- Integration with PowerPoint
The screenshot below shows the different components of Blackboard Collaborate.
Please watch this short demonstration to see the main functions of Blackboard Collaborate.
You can also use the whiteboard during your session to add a poll. See the YouTube clip below.
Here are a few introductory slides which you can download and adapt for your Blackboard Collaborate session.
Like any teaching activity, planning and preparation are key; the main point with running a virtual classroom however, is that it will not work if you try to drop in some slides and run it like a face-to-face session. Here are some pointers to help out:
- Use diagrams and images to convey information – no one likes to read heavy text online.
- Interact frequently by asking questions, using quizzes, polls and the whiteboard.
- Have a buddy. You will never be able to talk, read, answer questions and deliver a presentation. Bring another subject expert in to cover the reading and typing. This person can also troubleshoot for you.
- Rehearse with a mock audience.
- Be ready for students – perhaps log in 30 minutes before the start of the sessions to welcome participants in and go through any issues they have with Collaborate
- Have an induction week. It is vital that your students trouble shoot any technological issues before your first teaching session.
UWE’s Learning and Development Centre deliver training on Blackboard Collaborate. There is an accompanying UWE Blackboard Collaborate training manual available from their IT Training Documents webpage.
Have a look at the Blackboard Collaborate website for tours and videos.
There is an excellent, comprehensive guide on the JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) website: Chatterton, P. (2012) Designing for Participant Engagement with Blackboard Collaborate.