E-Learning Unit


How to set up Blackboard Collaborate with the Collaborate activity

Blackboard Collaborate, a.k.a. Bb Collaborate or just plain Collaborate, is our main platform for delivering webinars. It has been designed for education and has a variety of features which make it easier to teach online, especially with larger cohorts. It is very easy to set up a Blackboard Collaborate session, anyone with editing access to a QMplus area can do it.

This guide provides an overview of setting up a Collaborate session on QMplus using the Collaborate activity on QMplus. This is one of two ways of setting up Collaborate.

If you want to know the differences between the two ways of setting up Collaborate, please see our guide The two ways to set up Blackboard Collaborate sessions and how to choose.

If you want to view video guides for setting up a Collaborate session in QMplus, please see our video guide Creating a Blackboard Collaborate activity in QMplus.

This guide covers:

Adding a Blackboard Collaborate activity to your QMplus area

Add the activity

Turn editing on via the slider in the top right corner of the screen & select ‘Add an activity or resource’ in the section where you wish to add the Blackboard Collaborate session.

Select ‘Collaborate’ from the list of activities 

Add a name and description

Enter a name and a description for your session. The description can be displayed on the main course page by checking the box.

Collaborate activity on QMPlus course page showing date and time and description of session

Your name will appear as the link that people click on to join the activity. The date and time of the session will also be displayed so you do not need to enter this in the name of the session.

Set the date and time for your session

Choosing the date and time for a session

Select the date and time for the start of your session.

Blackboard Collaborate automatically allows participants to join the session 15 minutes before the start time. If you set the start time as 9am…participants will be able to join from 8.45am. You do not need to build in extra time when setting up the activity.

Set the duration of your session

Selecting the duration of a session, in half hour increments from 30 minutes to 2 and a half hours

Now select the duration of your session from the drop-down menu.

If you select the Duration of course option, this will create a session that can be joined at any time from the start date and time that you have set. This might be useful if you want to create an “ad-hoc” online classroom that you can use at any time without having to set up a session for every individual session.

Guest access

Allowing guest access to your session

By default, the Collaborate session can only be accessed by those who have access to the QMplus area that you have put the activity in.

Anyone with Teacher, Non-Editing Teacher or Course Administrator access to the course area, will automatically enter the session as a Moderator. Anyone with Student access on a course area will enter automatically as a Participant.

Those with Viewer or Guest access to a QMPlus area, cannot participate in a Collaborate session.

The guest access settings on the activity allow you to make the session accessible to participants who do not have access to QMplus. See the Giving guest access to a session for more information.

Grading the session

You can set the session to be graded, this will create an item in the gradebook for the activity. It is only possible to assign a grade and a feedback comment for the activity. Advanced grading features such as grading forms and feedback files are not available.

Giving guest access to a session

By default only those with access to the course area that you put the activity in will be able to join the Collaborate session. If you want someone who doesn’t have a QMplus account to join the session, you can set your activity to allow guest access. This will generate a web link that you can send to people to use to access the session.

Allowing guest access to a Collaborate activity and choosing the role
In the settings for the activity, check the Allow Collaborate guest access check box.

You should then select the role that you wish to give those that enter through the guest access link. We strongly recommend that you choose Participant or Presenter here as guest links are not secure. Once someone has entered the session, you can change their role.

Once you have enabled guest access and saved your changes, click on the Collaborate activity title.

Guest links for a Collaborate session

Click on the Guest links tab and you will see the link for the session. Click on the icon to copy the link and then you can distribute it as required. Remember that anyone with the link can access your session, they will be asked to enter a name as they join but otherwise there are no security checks for guest access links. Anyone who has the link can join the session.

Starting or joining a session

Joining a session via QMplus

A session becomes available to join from 15 minutes before the scheduled start time. It does not have to be started by a moderator/presenter. To join a session, click on the activity title and you will see a Join session button.

As soon as Join session is available, anyone can join. This means that some or all of your participants may already be in the session when you join it. When joining this way, participants names are automatically passed into the Collaborate session.

When joining via QMplus, anyone with Teacher, Course Administrator or Non-editing Teacher access to the QMplus area will automatically join the session as a moderator. Anyone enrolled as a Student will join the session as a participant. Moderators can change people’s roles during the session if required.

Joining a session via a guest link

Those accessing the session via a guest link should just click on the link they have been given to join. They will be asked to enter their name as they join and they will join with the role that was defined for guest access in the activity settings.

Changing the session settings when the session has started

With this method of setting up Collaborate sessions, by default participants are not able to share audio/video, write on the whiteboard or use the chat functionality. This makes for very one way conversations! If you are a moderator, the first thing you should do is to change the session settings to allow participants to communicate with you. We would recommend at least enabling the chat feature.

Recording the session

Blackboard Collaborate sessions can be recorded. The record option can be found in the Session menu which is available on the top left side of the page. You can choose to start and stop the recording at any time during the session and as many times during the session as you like. For instance, you may not wish to record someone’s presentation. Simply stop the recording while they present and start it again afterwards. Once you have started recording, the stop button can be found in the Session menu.

Notes about recordings

    • Session recording is not started automatically so you must remember to start the recording. It’s worth putting this on a session checklist which you go through at the beginning of your session. It’s something that session moderators often forget!
    • If you use breakout groups in your session, these are not recorded. The recording will stop when you start the breakout groups and you must restart it when you have finished using the groups and all participants have returned to the main room.

Downloading Recordings

Recordings can be accessed via QMplus, underneath the ‘Join session’ button. To download the recording, one can launch the recording and then navigate to the top left corner where once clicked upon to open options there is an option to download.


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

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