Running a Collaborate Session (Campus Closing Support)

This post was created by Dr. Julie Quinn

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As we do not meet our classes tomorrow, consider trying out a Blackboard Collaborate Ultra session with your students. This is e-meeting software built right into Blackboard. You can use the software for office hours (as Dr. Bo Yang recently let you know about) or for synchronous meetings with your students. If you do plan on using the software, here are a few tips to make that process much smoother the first time around.


  1. Everyone (including you!) should use headsets; this helps eliminate echoes from hearing yourself on someone else’s speakers
  2. Mics work great in smaller class settings. For bigger classes, mute everyone unless they raise their hands. There is also a chat function built into Collaborate that allows students who are not on the mic to still post questions/responses.
  3. Ask that students enter the room early (default is 15 minutes) to practice with mic and headset settings.



  1. Don’t do too much that first class! For example, I have two 112s meeting tomorrow on collaborate. I plan on the first 10-15 minutes being a technology setup, then 10 minutes for Q&A/catch-up, then 15 minutes to review readings, then another 15 or so for lecture content. If it doesn’t roll that way, that’s ok!
  2. You can upload slides, but again, don’t do too much. To upload PPT slides, go to the “share content” option as you expand the pink arrows button on the bottom right side. Remember that uploaded slides become static images, so you lose animation and any built-in audio.
  3. Record that setting! Some students who miss the session can still benefit from hearing about it and can find it by going back into the Collaborate Ultra link and searching under the “filter by” and “All previous sessions” option.
  4. Offer a bit of extra credit for students who show up *and* participate? This is just an incentive to get a few more attendees to these sessions and to focus during the sessions.
  5. Balance your classes with Collaborate sessions for one meeting and a discussion board activity the next if necessary. Too many discussion boards can get quite fatiguing! It’s impossible to respond to 125 students in a few days, and it’s better to have opportunities for synchronous and asynchronous activities to balance out your workload and the students’. Try Collaborate Ultra!


Honestly, the best way to learn Collaborate Ultra is to just dive in.

To set up a session:

  1. Go to a content area (or create one!) and find the “tools” sub-menu. Choose “Blackboard Collaborate Ultra” from that sub-menu.
  2. You’ll then just create a link into Collaborate Ultra. (Note:this is not the OLD “Blackboard Collaborate” link that’s lower in the list. Please don’t use that one.)
  3. Once in there, set up your session. I called mine “January 29th Meeting” for clarity, for example.
  4. Remember to post an announcement telling students where to find this Collaborate link!


Check out my video below for a quick tutorial on how to set up a session. Dr. Bo Yang also has sent some fantastic emails about Continuity of Instruction that she sent last week. Those will help give you set up alternative course delivery ideas as well.

Reach out to either Bo or myself if you have any questions. Great luck to you this week!

Julie Quinn
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