Use of Guest links in Blackboard Collaborate

There have been a number of people causing disruption to webinars after accessing sessions using Guest links. Guest links allow users to enter sessions anonymously and should NOT be used unless absolutely necessary. They are only intended for attendees (students, staff or external speakers) who are not attached to the specific Blackboard site where the webinar is hosted.

Reasons NOT to use guest links:

  • Attendees enter anonymously (can give any name they choose) and can be disruptive.
  • Attendees who are ejected from a session for being disruptive can immediately join again using the same Guest link.
  • Guest links can be forwarded or posted elsewhere (e.g. on Facebook) and allow anyone with the link to join the session.
  • UWE’s MyEngagement system cannot identify who has joined a session.

Best practice when setting up a webinar session:

  • Give the session a meaningful title so students know what and who it is for.
  • Give students attached to the module/programme a direct link to the Collaborate tool in the module/programme site. This link never changes and can be used repeatedly for the same module/programme site in Blackboard.
  • Tell students to choose the right session from the list they see in the Collaborate tool.
  • Never set a Guest link that allows people to enter as a Moderator. Individuals who join a session as a Participant can be upgraded to Moderator status (by an existing Moderator) by selecting the 3 dots next to their name in the Participants list.

When to use a Guest link:

To allow attendees who are NOT attached to the Blackboard site where the webinar is hosted to join. If you have to use a Guest link, in the Session Settings beforehand:

  • Set all Guests to enter as ‘Participants’ (this is the default).
  • Untick ‘Draw on whiteboard and files’. No one will be able to draw on whiteboards or slides. If you want them to then you can temporarily make individual people ‘Presenters’ inside the session by selecting the 3 dots next to their name in the Participants list, or re-tick ‘Draw on whiteboard and files’ to give everyone this permission again.
  • Under ‘Profanity filter’ select ‘Hide profanity in chat messages’.
  • Under ‘Private Chat’ select either ‘Participants can chat privately only with moderators’ or ‘Moderators supervise all private chats’ (possibly lessens the chance of disruptive behaviour).

Disruption during a session:

  • Eject disruptive attendees during a session by selecting the 3 dots next to their name in the Participant list and selecting ‘Remove from session’.
  • If you eject somebody who joined through the Collaborate tool page in a Blackboard site, this person will no longer be able to access that particular session/room – not just for the duration of the current event but any future events held in the same session/room.
  • If you eject somebody who joined via a Guest link, they can re-join again immediately using the same link.

See more information about using Guest links and the attendee roles in Collaborate.