One of the features, which was much used in the previous version of Blackboard, were the gestures: Thumbs up or down, green ticks and red crosses, were often used to allow students to answer a quick yes or no question, similar to a show of hands in a face to face classroom.
This feature has now been incorporated into the current version of Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Experience, and the icons used are similar to the emoticons, i.e. the facial expressions, which can be created by certain sequences of keyboard symbols in the chat pane.
Encouraging students to use the feedback icons whenever they want throughout the session will not only keep them engaged, but also allows the moderator or presenter to gauge the learner engagement, which can be tricky in a webinar session with no visual clues as in a face to face classroom. Students may also find it reassuring to see the reactions of others in the session, or feel more comfortable communicating using the feedback icons to express themselves.
On the surface, nothing has changed in the appearance of the main webinar screen, however the feedback icons can be found by clicking on the green tick next to the user icon under the whiteboard or PowerPoint presentation.
When a feedback icon is selected, it attaches itself to the student’s name on the participants list and on any visible chat messages, for 30 seconds, and then automatically disappears.
The moderator or presenter can also access a summary of which feedback icons are currently in use, located at the very top of the participants’ list, which can be useful in busy sessions. It is also possible to select a particular feedback icon, to see which students are ‘happy’, for example.
The feedback icons differ from the ‘raise hand’ function, which requires either the student or the moderator to lower the hand again. This function is still very useful when a student wants to attract the moderator’s attention.