Due to COVID-19, more people now than ever are suddenly wanting to use Collaborate Ultra, many for the first time. In this blog post are some resources that should help you get started. In places these guides will make specific reference to the configuration/set up at our institution (University of York, UK) where we use Collaborate Ultra within Blackboard Learn. Your experience may vary, but hopefully the following are still a useful starting point.
We’ll endeavour to keep this blog post as up to date as I can with new resources/updates as the Coronavirus situation continues.
Learning Collaborate – Basics
If you’ve never used Collaborate before, we’d suggest starting with this Collaborate overview video to get a feel for the tool and what it provides:
Next, we’d recommend starting to get to grips with the tool via our overarching “scenario hub guides” that we’ve shared below. They’re short in and of themselves, but each link out to further materials relevant to each scenario, with headings such as:
- Teaching via Collaborate Ultra
- Accessing Collaborate Ultra (for staff and students)
- Creating/Configuring Collaborate
- Joining Collaborate Webinars
- Accessing Collaborate Recordings
- Troubleshooting & Further Help
… And so, they’re hopefully a good “all rounder” location to help you get going:
- Using Collab’ with One Group of Students via the VLE
- Using Collab’ with Multiple Groups of Students via the VLE (eg. seminars, reading groups)
- Using Collab’ with People not Enrolled on your VLE site (eg. Externals, other staff/students)
- Using Collab’ for Sensitive One-to-One Meetings/Consultations, etc
- Recording Collab’ Without an Audience to Create Video Resources for Later
Learning Collaborate – Beyond Basics
There are obviously many more resources available for Collaborate than those linked above. If you’re wanting to learn more I’d suggest looking at the following:
- Our team have been running very well received webinars on Collaborate and other tools over the summer of 2020, take a look at our team’s COVID-19 Contingency resources
- Blackboard’s Own Collaborate Ultra Help Pages
- Our Collaborate Guidance Doc’ Folder (this is the folder that houses the above “scenario hub” guides and more)
- Our Generic Webinar Help Pages
- Or, if you join the Blackboard Community Pages then you can get access to the EMEA Mobile and Collaborate (“MoCo”) User Group (which I co-lead with Helga Gunnarsdottir) – Come and join us! Of particular interest will likely be the “Collaborate Home Page”, which contains loads of information from help guides to accessibility information to hardware recommendations to case studies and more.
Securing Your Virtual Meetings
It is important that you run your webinars/virtual meetings as securely as possible, to help avoid intrusion and disruption by uninvited guests. See our related blog post for guidance for Collaborate and Zoom on this issue: Securing Virtual Meetings (aka Challenging Zoom Bombing).
Usually ensuring that a user is on Chrome or Firefox, that they plugged in any peripherals before entering the Collab’ session and asking them to leave and re-enter the session sorts most issues… But for everything else, try the following:
Keeping Up To Date
It’s always important to keep up to date with what’s happening with Collaborate as it’s updated monthly, but this is now more important than ever:
- Due to the sudden increase in usage of the Collaborate platform, there are more planned and unplanned outages currently, as the platform is reworked to try and handle the increase in traffic.
- Additionally, some normal Collaborate features have been temporarily disabled to help platform stability – At time of writing (15th March, 2020), the following are disabled:
- Chat Typing Indicator (“Joe Bloggs is typing…”)
Bookmark the following pages, and check them regularly:
- Collaborate Ultra Release Notes Page to see what new features are available now/soon, and the Release Schedule page for when these updates should happen
- Currently disabled features (requires Behind the Blackboard access, but I’ll try and keep this blog post up to date to match)
- Collaborate Ultra Server Status (our Collaborate instance is “Europe, Middle East & Africa” > “Collaborate Ultra – AWS (EU)”), to see planned and unplanned outages.