Leicester Medical School

Webinars with Blackboard Collaborate

Virtual classrooms, otherwise known as webinars, are a great way of teaching from a distance. It is similar to a video Skype session, with the added benefit of being able to share a Powerpoint presentation or other file with remote participants, and many remote participants can join in and can type or speak to and see each other. In addition, webinars are easily recorded for later reviewing. Webinars can be used for meetings, conferences, and class sessions. Webinars can be blended with a face-to-face group, to extend the group’s meeting to remote participants anywhere in the world.

There are many software packages which will support webinars. The University of Leicester currently has a license for Blackboard Collaborate.

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

Blackboard update Collaborate Ultra every month. See their What's New page for the latest changes.

Collaborate Ultra is a real-time online conferencing tool that allows you to share audio and video as well as files and applications. You can record sessions, run polls and set up breakout rooms to enable students to work together in smaller groups.

Create a link to the Collaborate room

Each Blackboard course site has a Collaborate ‘room’. You can also create sessions, for example to allow more than one group to use Collaborate at the same time.

In order for your students to join the room, you need to add a link as described below.

Add a link to the course menu

  • Click the plus sign above the menu and choose Tool Link
  • Type in a name for the link and select Blackboard Collaborate Ultra from the Type list.
  • Tick the Available to Users box.
  • Click Submit

Add a link in a content area

The advantage of adding a link in a content area is that you can control access by date or using Adaptive Release.

  • Go to the area of your course where you want to add the link to the Collaborate room
  • From the menu at the top of the content area, choose Tools > More tools > Blackboard Collaborate Ultra
  • Enter a Link Name, for example “Q&A session”
  • In the Text box, enter a description for students of when they should use the Collaborate room and what it will be used for. For example, if you are holding a weekly Q&A for your students, you should enter the times when you will be available and the sort of questions they can ask.
  • Click Submit to create the link to the Collaborate room.

Join the room

To join the room, both you and your students need to do the following:

  • Click on the link to the room
  • Click the Join Room button

You can also send your students a URL with guest access to the Collaborate room -- create this URL by clicking on the left in Blackboard Course Tools - Collaborate Ultra -- then clicking on the small circle which offers a guest access link. See Blackboard Collaborate’s help pages on how to set up and run your session. You can find more information on the Moderator help page.

There is more information for students on joining a session, including which browsers are supported, on the Participant help page. Note that if students wish to join in a Blackboard Collaborate Ultra session from an iPad or iPhone, they must first download the free Blackboard app.

Please contact Terese Bird on t.bird@le.ac.uk with questions on teaching with either of these webinar environments.

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