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Blackboard Collaborate Replaces Wimba Live Classroom

Blackboard Collaborate is the successor to Live Classroom for synchronous/real time online sessions, and has great features and reliability.

What is Collaborate? Why would I want to use it?

Blackboard Collaborate is a virtual classroom that supports text, audio and video chat, screen and file sharing, slide presentations and breakout rooms.  The instructor/moderator can easily grant speaking and presentation privileges.  Microphone headsets or a separate phone conferencing provider are required for the best audio experience.  Collaborate does not currently include a dial-up audio connection, as Wimba did.
Synchronous experiences, like Collaborate, can be painful to schedule, since they require everyone to be available at the same time, and students have often chosen online courses precisely because of their busy schedules. Nonetheless, sessions where students can converse with you and each other can be exciting morale boosters. Students can also make live presentations to the class in Collaborate.  Collaborate can also be handy on a snow day, but not without preparation.

Is it just like Wimba?

No.  While the basic layout looks like Wimba Classroom, and text chat works the same, other controls are quite different.  Recommendation: Practice!  Become familiar with the controls by trying it out with a friend or the Learn test student as your helper.

Setting up a Collaborate Session

  1. In your NU Learn class, with Edit Mode On, choose Blackboard Collaborate from the Tools button at the top of a course page.
  2. Click Create Session and specify the start and end times for a Collaborate session. Check the "Repeat Session" box and choose details for a weekly online meeting.
  3. In most cases, set Max Simultaneous Talkers to the maximum of 6, but set Max Cameras low.
  4. The session can be connected with a Grade Center column if you wish to grade participation.
  5. Additional settings are available under four tabs:
    • Information – title, times, etc., the basic settings noted above
    • Participation – Send invitations to non-members of the class
    • Sharing – Upload a file to be available within the session
    • Content Area – Add a link to the session on a course content area.
  6. Submit

Create a Link

Students will not see the Session unless you create a course link, either

  • From the Create Session dialog - in the "Content Area" tab, or
  • Afterwards, by choosing "Add Content Item" from the context menu for the session from the session list.

The instructor can always see the list of sessions by choosing Blackboard Collaborate from the Tools button at the top of any course page. Hovering over the session name will reveal the context menu and enable the instructor to join a session, edit or delete a session, or create a link for a session on any course page.

Pitfalls and Tips

Collaborate has a lot of moving parts, and it is quite different from Wimba. Here are a few things you should know before inviting others to a session:

  • Upload a PowerPoint by clicking the Load Content button, at the top right in the session window.
  • Participants have no privileges, not even text chat, unless you grant them, either in setup or during the session. "Global" permissions can be given to all participants from the context menu above the participants list.
  • Echo can be a problem, as can babies and barking dogs. Participants who cannot turn down their speakers should use "Talk" only while speaking. Disable audio for some or all participants as necessary.

For More Information

For more information call the Neumann Faculty Resource Center: 484 840-4609 or BFRC@neumann.edu

Neumann University One Neumann Drive Aston, PA 19014-1298 Phone: 610-459-0905 or 800.9.NEUMANN

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