What is Blackboard Collaborate? How to use Blackboard’s video-conferencing rooms

Student remote learning laptop
Blackboard Collaborate is a web-conferencing tool that gives instructors and students more ways to learn virtually face-to-screen-to-face.

  • Blackboard Collaborate offers Blackboard instructors and moderators private, dedicated course rooms for breakout sessions, one-on-one meetings, and office hours. 
  • Available as part of the standard or Ultra Blackboard experience, Blackboard Collaborate is located in your Course Tools and is accessible through a desktop or mobile device.
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Blackboard is an online learning tool that allows students and instructors to host or take online classes as part of a school, university, or corporate environment. The educational platform is highly customizable, allowing users to tailor their digital classroom experience to an institution’s and learners’ needs. 

In Blackboard, students can view assignments, submit work, have discussions, and even meet for a video conference. Meanwhile, instructors can make announcements, post course materials, and grade assignments and classes. Blackboard’s apps also help students stay connected on their phones, and other features include calendars, discussions, groups, and assessments. 

Within Blackboard, several advanced features enhance or expand the interactive element of online learning. Blackboard Collaborate and Blackboard Collaborate Ultra are just one. The video-based conferencing tool within the Blackboard platform hosts private “rooms” for real-time educational collaboration. 

Here’s everything you should know about Blackboard Collaborate. 

What you need to know about Blackboard Collaborate

Blackboard’s video conferencing tool works with both the original and Ultra versions through different interfaces. Both allow users to meet in real-time, add files, and more. You’ll need to install the Blackboard Collaborate utility before you launch video sessions but will be prompted to download it when you click on a video session link. 

Blackboard Collaborate rooms are located in the “Tools” section of a course. In Blackboard Original, there is one video “room” associated with a given course if enabled. In Ultra, the instructor may create additional sessions for other uses, including breakout or group-study sessions that can operate regardless of whether the instructor is present. Instructors can also customize the rooms to allow private messaging, allow simultaneous speakers, share their desktop, or set recording options. 

The dedicated “Course Room” lasts for the entirety of the course, and instructors and students can join at any time without scheduling or without the need for an instructor to hold bigger classwide sessions. Instructors have an additional “My Room” that can be used for office hours or other smaller meetings with students. 

And much like Zoom, in Collaborate, instructors can create a unique session link. Instructors can use the link to direct students immediately from another course area (a folder, for example) to the Collaborate session.

Blackboard Collaborate interactive features and mobile access

Collaborate offers several features to help students and instructors get the most out of the “room” experience. Users can participate in polls, raise their hand (like the Google Meet and Zoom feature) to share a question or comment, and use the chat to message other students or the room moderator without disrupting the larger conversation. 

Collaborate will test your audio and video before you join the session or room, but in the case where your audio is not up to par, you have the option to call in and join the sessions using your phone. Or, you could go completely mobile by joining a Collaborate session from your mobile browser. Android users should sign into their Blackboard account using Chrome, while iPhone users can use Safari to join live classes and meetings, view instructor-shared content, and use all the same whiteboard and communication tools as a desktop device.  

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