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Joining a webinar

You may be asked to take part in an online classroom or a webinar. At QMUL, the webinar system integrated with QMplus is called Blackboard Collaborate.

This guide covers the basics of joining and taking part in a session. More information about using the system once you have joined a session can be found on the Blackboard Collaborate website, links are at the end of this guide. There are also links to help within the system itself.

Please note that some staff choose to use a different system for their webinars. If this is the case, they will provide you with instructions on how to join their sessions and where you can find help with using it.

What you need to take part in a session

Blackboard Collaborate runs in a web browser. You do not need to download and install any special software. We have found that Blackboard Collaborate works best with Chrome but Firefox and Microsoft Edge are also supported on laptops and desktops. Mac users can also use Safari however if you will be expected to present in a session we advise using Chrome or Firefox instead. You will need an up to date version of any of these web browsers.

You will need a stable broadband internet connection.

You will need to be able to hear the webinar moderator so you will need a headset or speakers. You may also need a microphone if you are expected to share your audio. The person running the webinar should let you know in advance whether they will want you to do this, in which case you may also need to arrange to be somewhere quiet for the webinar.

Please see our Technical requirements for joining a Collaborate session guide for more information on technical requirements.

If you are having issues, please look at the following troubleshooting guides according to the browser you are using:

How to join a session

If you have been sent a session link by the organiser, simply click on the link to join the session. Otherwise:

  • Go to the area on QMplus where the session has been set up.
  • Collaborate activity on a QMplus course pageClick on the title of the session.
    Joining a Collaborate sessionYou will see a Join session button. If the button is not there, check the start time and duration of the session. You may be too early or too late.

Generally, sessions can be joined 15 minutes before their scheduled start time. This allows time for you to check that your own audio and video is working before the session gets underway.

Once you have clicked the Join session button, or your session link, you will be guided through a number of steps to get ready for the session. You may have to allow your web browser to access your camera and microphone.

Important Blackboard Collaborate features

Once you have entered the session, you will be able to see who else is there. If you are the first person to join, you may see a The room is empty message. Sessions do not have to be started by the organiser so it may be that you have made it in to the session before them. Be patient, especially if you have joined early. We do recommend that webinar organisers ensure they are online for a session as early as possible so hopefully you won’t end up in an empty room very often. You can use the time before the session starts to look at the Blackboard Collaborate tutorial available in the session, particularly if it’s your first session.

Participant view of Blackboard Collaborate Session

  1. Here you can share audio and video (if the session moderator has allowed you to do so), you can also use the raise hand feature to attract the moderator’s attention. Selecting the icon on the left will pop up a window with more optionsBlackboard COllaborate feedback menu If you need to step away from the session select the Away option. This will indicate to others in the session that you are away. Moderators will know not to call on you. You can use the other options to send feedback to the moderators. They may explicitly ask you to use these features. The icon in the top right allows you to check your current connection. You can also select Leave here to leave the session completely.
  2. Select the attendee list icon in the Collaborate panel to see who else is in the session (if your Collaborate panel isn’t open, click the purple chevron icon in the bottom right of the window)
  3. Select the settings icon, which looks like a cog, to access your Collaborate settings. Here you can change your profile picture and set your preferences for notifications. You can also check your audio and video settings
  4. Select the chat icon, which looks like a speech bubble, to use the chat feature. Who you can chat to is controlled by the moderator.
  5. Change your view. In this screenshot, group view is shown, you can change to speaker view where the person currently speaking will be prominently shown.
  6. Pop out the session menu to find help if you need it. If you are having technical issues, you will find troubleshooting guides here to help you.

Once your organiser is in the session, if you are having any issues…particularly if you cannot hear them, use the Raise hand icon to attract their attention. You can also use the chat window if it has been enabled in the session.

Accessing session recordings

Sessions can be recorded, your organiser should tell you whether your session is being recorded or not. These recordings can be accessed via the activity on QMplus.

If you participated in the session via a web link and do not have access to QMplus, you will have to contact the session organiser to request a copy of the recording.

Find out more on the Blackboard Collaborate website

You will find more help on the Blackboard Collaborate website. We recommend this guide in particular:

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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