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Blackboard Collaborate Activity in QMplus (Webinars & web conferencing)

Blackboard Collaborate allows you to connect with students using audio, video, file sharing, and a virtual whiteboard. It was designed specifically for educators to host a virtual classroom, but can also be used for web conferencing. Collaborate sessions have to be set up in QMplus but once set up it is possible to give access to people who do not have QMplus accounts. Participants will need to have a stable broadband connection and modern internet browser. This guide will provide an overview of the tools and features you can use in Collaborate.

Step 1: Adding the Blackboard Collaborate Activity

  1. Turn editing on via the slider in the top right corner of the screen & select ‘Add an activity or resource’ in the section which you wish to add the Blackboard Collaborate session.  
  2. Select ‘Collaborate’ from the list of activities 
  3. Add a name to the Blackboard Collaborate session… …and a description, which can be displayed on the course area, should you wish 
  4. Once this information has been added, the date, time & duration of the session can be chosen: 
One can only upload presentation material whilst the session is taking place, so it is best to schedule the session for 10 minutes before the time advertised to students & extra time allowed for the duration of the session so that there is time to upload the presentation slides in advance.

The settings can now be saved either by selecting ‘save and return to course’ or ‘save and display’:

 

Step 2: Selecting the content you wish to share with the participants and what you’d like them to be able to contribute

    1.  Click on the activity which you’ve just created in QMplus and then select ‘Join Session’ 
    2. You should now see the following screen – please take a look at the 3 areas of the screen in which you can adjust the settings: In addition, the centre of the screen will detail whether any participants are present.
    3. If one clicks upon the purple ‘slider’ icon, to the bottom right of the screen, one will see the following options: 

– 1.  View of chat messages sent to/from the students

– 2.  View of all presenters and participants in the session

– 3.  Options to share content (blank whiteboard / slides / full screen or application, plus polling)

– 4.  Settings for the presenter’s audio/video, settings for the student’s ability to share audio/video & how they may collaborate via chat messages / draw on whiteboard, plus options for notifications.

4. When clicking on icon 3 (the arrow pointing to the right, outwards of a box), one has the ability to choose which content will be available to the participants. If uploading multiple slides as part of a PowerPoint presentation, these will upload in bulk and the presenter can scroll through the slides by using left and right arrow icons which appear in the presentation view.If multiple files are selected via ‘Add Files’ the presenter can select which is to be made available by selecting the appropriate one and clicking the ‘Share Now’ button: 

Step 3: Polling

Should you require polling in your Blackboard Collaborate session, then this can be set-up in this same ‘sharing content’ section, as secondary content: 

Once selected, the presenter can choose whether the question consists of Yes/No or 2, 3, 4 or 5 choices:

In this example, I’ve opted for 4 choices. As each participant responds, the number of students that have selected each choice is displayed to the right (but this can be hidden via the eye symbol): 

Step 4: Selecting what the participants can share and what notifications they will receive

  1. Click on the cog icon (#4) which is displayed when you select the slider to the bottom right of the screen. 
  2. The session settings can then be selected to determine what students may be able to share with the presenter and the rest of the participants – such as audio, video, chat messages or material added to the whiteboard area:
  3. You will now be able to select the notifications to be made available to you as students join/leave the session, as they participate or asks for help via the ‘raise hand’ feature:
  4. Lastly, you can adjust the microphone and speaker settings for presenting:

Step 5: Recording the session

Via a slider in the top left of this screen one can start and stop a recording of the session. As this is something which is easy to forget to do, it is best to write yourself a reminder for when you are running these sessions.

Once you have run the session, the recording can be accessed by clicking into the activity that you created it in your QMplus course area: 

Tips and Tricks to ensure a successful session

  • Write down the settings which you select to ensure that future sessions have the same features for students and to act as a checklist when creating another session.
  • Allow 10 minutes at the start as a buffer to allow you enough time to add your slides and troubleshoot any audio/video or connectivity issues that you or the students may have.
  • Add the slides in the order that you are to use them & give them appropriate names so that sharing the content is seamless when the session is live.
  • Should you enable audio for the students so that they can collaborate in this means, they cannot be muted by yourself – so it is best to keep this option for smaller sized groups and should you wish to get everyone quiet, ask that they mute their audio whilst you present. This can be done via this icon: 

Did this answer your query? If not, you can raise a ticket on the online Helpdesk or email: its-helpdesk@qmul.ac.uk . Alternatively you can also request a particular guide or highlight an error in this guide using our guides request tracker.

Produced by the the E-Learning Unit at Queen Mary University of London.
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