Collaborate top tips

We will continue to add to this list of Collaborate top tips throughout the academic year.

Avoiding the infinity/tunnel effect when sharing your screen

To share something that is open on your computer, click the “Share Content” icon, and select “Share Application.” You can then select the application you want to share, such as PowerPoint or Microsoft Excel. If you need to share something in a web browser, have a separate browser window open that contains what you want to share (before you start your session). Select the relevant web browser to share it (not the one with BB Collaborate open).

If you are using two or more monitors, make sure that the window hosting the Ultra session is moved off the screen that will be shared prior to initiating a screen share and this should avoid the infinity/tunnel effect if sharing your entire screen.

Recording when using breakout groups

Collaborate stops recording your session if all attendees leave the main room to join breakout groups. (What is said or viewed in a breakout group isn’t captured in recordings.)

You can start your recording again from the Session Menu when one or more attendees return to the main room.

However, if someone stays in the main room, it doesn’t stop recording.

Note: We have had a report that if you stop the recording while the breakout groups are running, that the second recording once you return is not saved. Blackboard are investigating this now, but we recommend that you either remain in the main room to prevent the recording from being stopped, or you allow Blackboard to stop the recording automatically rather than stopping this yourself. — 15/10/2020

Accessing Collaborate recordings in YuJa

Collaborate recordings are not automatically added to your YuJa module channel. If you want to include any recordings in your channel, you will need to download the Collaborate recording, upload into YuJa and publish to your module channel.

Enabling breakout groups

You need at least five users to be able to change the ‘Assign Groups’ settings, and breakout groups won’t work when you’ve set up a session as a ‘Large-scale session’ (250+ users).

Randomly assigned breakout groups

You can ‘shuffle’ the randomly assigned groups for breakout rooms, but only from the point of setting them up. You also need at least 5 users for the ‘random’ assignment option to appear.

Allowing users to move rooms

If you tick the option to ‘Allow attendees to switch groups’, make sure to keep the Breakout Groups panel open until everyone has moved. If you inadvertently go to have a look at the chat … then the tick unticks itself!

Emma’s handy hint – join the session as a guest in another browser (or on another device). Make sure you are muted with your guest link but promote yourself to Moderator and manage the groups from here.

Sharing a file with all breakout groups

When in a Collaborate session a moderator can share a file with selected/all breakout groups at the one time, rather than having to go into each group. Within the main room, click on Share Content -> Share Files -> Add Files. Once you have uploaded the required file to the Main Room Files, click on the three dots to the right of the file name (File Options) and select Share with groups. From here you can then tick to share with all groups, or select particular groups you want to share the file with. Confirm by clicking Share Now.

Please note that breakout groups do need to be started/open and running for the ‘Share with groups’ option to appear.

Setting up attendance

There are a few key things to pay close attention to when you set up your Collaborate session with attendance. When you set up the attendance within Collaborate, you’ll be asked to include the number of minutes for ‘Late after’ and ‘Absent after’, make sure that you carefully decide what these settings should be.

You’ll also need to pay careful attention to the bottom bar that sets what percentage of the session students must be present for to be marked present. If your session is set to run from 10:00-11:00 and you’ve set the bar requiring users to be in the session for 50% of the time, a student will need to be present for a total of at least 30 minutes to be marked as present. This means you need to set up your session start/end times carefully, as this is determines the length of the session.

Monitoring attendance

After the session has completed, if you think the attendance is wrong be sure to check the room reports for the session! Look at the time the student joined, the total time they spent in the session, and the total length of the session itself.

If the numbers seem completely off (e.g. you noticed 30+ users in the session the whole time, but the report only has 10 users), look for your own name in the report. You may have run the session from the course room, or another session that was scheduled at the same time.

Adding Collaborate sessions to the module calendar

Scheduled Collaborate sessions do not automatically show-up in the module calendar, however you can create an event in the Calendar and set it to repeat the event, or you can add the relevant information to the course schedule.

Please note that you can’t link directly to a Collaborate session from the module calendar if you want users to enter with their accounts, you can just let them know when the session is, what it is called, and where to find it.

Testing Collaborate as a participant

The best way we have found to test out BB Collaborate (as a presenter and a participant) is to use the Guest Access link.

If you have 2 laptops/PC’s available to you, then use one to access BB Collaborate as the presenter/moderator of a session (as you would when teaching), then follow the instructions in this Blackboard Help Guide to enable the Guest Access link. Use your other machine to access the session using the Guest Link and you will then be a participant in the session. (Even if you don’t have two different devices available, you could just use two separate browsers, or incognito mode in one tab to achieve the same set-up.)

Please note that students should not need to use the Guest Access link, as they will be able to click on the link to the session within your module, however this will give you the opportunity to test out Collaborate from a presenter/moderator and participant perspective.

Updated on 23/08/2021

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