Blackboard Collaborate webinars
Blackboard Collaborate is a virtual classroom or video conferencing tool, where participants can communicate online in real time by voice or text chat.
In an online session, you can:
- Run a PowerPoint presentation
- Communicate with students by speaking, text chatting, video and emoticons
- Share your screen
- Use the interactive whiteboard
- Split your group into breakout rooms
- Conduct simple polls
Blackboard Collaborate is used for classroom sessions and collaborative activities for work-based or distance learning students. It can also be used for vivas or drop-in advice sessions and ‘office hours’ (see Using Collaborate Ultra for one-to-one sessions). It can be used on both module and programme sites in the Blackboard VLE, and it is possible to invite external guests to participate or facilitate a session. Staff can also use it for online meetings and training sessions, by hosting sessions on their Blackboard Test Course and using guest links.
Blackboard Collaborate works on PCs and Macs in Chrome, Firefox or Safari. It also works on the BB Student app (Blackboard’s own app for students – available for both Android and iOS), though with some limitations to functionality.
Blackboard Collaborate is best used for seminars, tutorials and workshops where there is expected to be interaction between staff and students. For lecturing where you are purely delivering content, it may be best to provide a pre-recorded video using Panopto. Collaborate can also be used for meetings, live student presentations, and as a group working space.
Preparing for a session:
- Upload slides or other files in advance. They may take a while to upload, but once there they will stay in the session to be presented later on.
- Encourage participants to familiarise themselves with the technology in preparation for the session, either by having an open session they can go into in advance, or asking them to read the students’ guide.
- Allow early entry to the session and be ready to welcome participants and assist with any technical issues.
In the session:
- Consider pairing up with another presenter. It can add to the variety of the session, and one of you can keep an eye on the text chat while the other presents.
- Encourage interaction through questions, emoticons or polling for instant feedback, or set up an activity on the whiteboard.
- If presenting, where possible use diagrams or images as too much reading is likely to distract the participants. PowerPoint slides can be presented at a faster pace than in the face-to-face classroom to keep the participants’ attention.
- Have a back-up plan in case the attendance is unusually high or low.
There is a short video from Blackboard on YouTube explaining the main functionalities.
The LDC also offer Collaborate training, and have produced some Webinar introductory slides, which you can download, adapt and include in your Collaborate Ultra sessions to help you and your webinar participants get started.
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