Blackboard’s Collaborate Web Conferencing Tool for Live Online Interaction

From Kevin Wolff

Blackboard Collaborate is a web conferencing tool (along the lines of GoToMeeting, Webex or Skype) that uses video and audio for synchronous, i.e., “live,” educational activities over the web. These activities might be online lectures, live online discussions with students, virtual office hours, or student peer-to-peer group work. The students would need to navigate to the appropriate area within Blackboard (from within a Blackboard course site on the left-hand course menu: click Tools > Blackboard Collaborate) and click to join a Blackboard Collaborate session at a designated time.

The sessions allow for live interactive audio communication as well as live video of you and your students (up to six video images at a time). Before joining a web conference (or “webinar”) that will involve audio, it is a good idea for instructors and students to have either (a) a microphone and headphones or (b) a headset (i.e., headphones with built-in microphone). In order to display his or her own video image, each participant would need a computer with either a built-in or an external web camera.

In the web conferencing session, you can use a digital whiteboard, give presentations using PowerPoint (or any other software program), show videos, and navigate to websites as part of your presentation to students. These live sessions can also be recorded so that the students in your class can access them from within the Blackboard course site at their convenience. The tool might even be used for exclusively asynchronous content, e.g., an instructor can set up a Collaborate session in which only he or she is present in order to record a lecture for later access by the students.

* Note: Blackboard’s Collaborate tool is similarly named but very different from Blackboard’s Collaboration tool.

More Resources for Using Blackboard Collaborate
Below are some useful resources for learning more about Collaborate:

General Resources:

* Collaborate Getting Started Quick Reference Guide (PDF)
* Collaborate Overview (Recording) (approx. 11 minutes; requires Java plugin to play)

Specific Collaborate Tools:

* Introduction to the Participants Panel (PDF)
* Using the Audio & Video Panel (PDF)
* Using Chat (PDF)
* Audio Setup Wizard (PDF)
* Loading a PowerPoint File (PDF)
* Using the Whiteboard (PDF)
* Introduction to the Whiteboard (Recording)
* Using the Polling Feature Wizard (PDF)
* Using Application Sharing (PDF)
* Introduction to Application Sharing (Recording)
* Using Web Tour (PDF)
* Introduction to Web Tour (Recording)
* Getting Started with Recordings (PDF)

For more assistance related to Collaborate, the following site has extensive support materials: Blackboard Collaborate Support Site.

You can also contact the Baruch Help Desk at 646-312-1010 or helpdesk@baruch.cuny.edu if you have any questions. We hope Collaborate will prove to be a useful tool to enhance yours and your students’ academic experience at Baruch.

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