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Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

Colleagues should attend training before using Collaborate with students.

Collaborate is a simple tool to use--once you have been shown how. Get training and find out what the pitfalls are to make it a positive first experience for all involved.

What is Collaborate Ultra?

Collaborate is a live web conferencing platform that allows you to facilitate interactive instruction, and have online meetings to support a 21st century teaching and learning environment. It can be used to:

Watch a short video demonstration of Collaborate Ultra

  • Conduct audio and video conferences for lectures, seminars and meetings.          
  • Share content such as documents, desktop applications, web-tours, whiteboard and files.          
  • Interact with each other e.g. through polls, quizzes, Q&As and text-chat.          
  • Record live sessions for later playback.          
  • Manage meetings through various tools such as assigning roles and privileges to different participants.          

Collaborate has changed. Staff should attend training on the new version before they use it to avoid a bad experience for everybody.          

Below is a list of key points that have caused colleagues who have not attended training difficulties since the start of the semester. This software is so radically different from the original version that training is required.          

  • All moderators should connect to sessions on a wired connection (not wirelessly). If your connection drops it affects all in the session.            
  • Always use an updated version of Google Chrome to access Ultra sessions. Otherwise you cannot use Application Sharing. Allow Chrome to use your mic and camera in the pop-up windows on start up.            
  • Use ‘Share files’ tool to display your slides. This converts your slides to images and loads them into the software. This is far less bandwidth intensive but this method does not show anything of a dynamic nature in your presentation. E.g. No transitions, no line by line displaying live links.            
  • If you opt to use ‘Share application’ to display PowerPoint then PowerPoint needs to be set up using the Show type ‘Browsed by an individual (window)’. This is found under the ‘Slide show’ tab and the ‘Set up slide show’. Otherwise your slides change for you but not for your participants.            
  • If you Share your entire desktop then promptly switch to something other than Collaborate tab in your browser to escape the infinity feedback loop that appears.            
  • To set up your mic and camera from within Collaborate itself, select the Pink settings icon (Bottom right) and click on the cog icon. Select ‘Set up camera and microphone’. Select a mic from the dropdown box and speak into it. If the pink sound level meter moves across the screen then all is ok. If not, select a different device from the drop down box and repeat.            
  • If the audio isn’t coming out of the correct device then this is a pc issue. Right mouse click on your pc speaker icon (on the task bar) and select ‘Playback devices’. Choose the appropriate device and click to set it as ‘default’ then apply.            
  • By default, your microphone is set to maximum when you first enter a session. Please adjust it to suit your listeners. Do a sound check with them.            
  • When searching for previous recordings you need to set the start and end date then click go. You must click the ‘Show all button’. Otherwise they do not all display. (A bug which we expect to be fixed soon).            

Mobile access

  • Students need to use the 'Blackboard' app to be installed on their mobile device to be able to access a Collaborate Ultra session through it. They should navigate to the module in thi app click onto the 'Get Launch Link' icon. This then should launch the Collaborate tool on their device.            
  • Teaching and learning through live instruction.          
  • Pre-recorded sessions for lecture priming.          
  • Tutorials, seminars and study sessions.          
  • Student project work.          
  • Guest speakers.          
  • Workshops & virtual labs.          
  • Mentoring & coaching.          
  • CPD & training.                        
  • Virtual office.          
  • Conferences.          
  • Virtual open days.          
  • Research collaboration.          

How colleagues are using Collaborate Ultra.        

  • Builds learner peer collaboration and a sense of community, particularly with distance learners and work-based learners.          
  • Supports a wide range of teaching/learning methods, potentially in highly engaging and collaborative forms.          
  • Recording of sessions allows learners to access them anytime e.g. to help re-enforce the learning.          
  • Allows external participants to cost-effectively participate live in sessions e.g. external experts, assessors, verifiers.          
  • Extends geographical reach - to anyone with an Internet connection and computer.          
  • Provides greater flexibility to arrange sessions cost-effectively without participants having to travel.          
  • Can be blended with other learning methods e.g. Blackboard, asynchronous discussions, wikis, tutorials.          
  • It is a multi-platform device e.g. PCs, Apples, Linux-based, Tablet systems therefore most participants are likely to be able to access it.          

Collaborate Ultra is accessed via your web browser. Google Chrome or Firefox are the preferred browsers. Ensure your browser is fully up to date before using Ultra. You will need to use a microphone and either speakers or earphones to be able to communicate.      

If you need to purchase a headset or webcam, please speak to your local Finance Officer. The devices below are recommended by ITS and can be purchased from University suppliers: Logitech headset from Business Direct Microsoft Lifecam from Business Direct

You can access a Collaborate Ultra session as Participant using a 'Blackboard' app after installing it from the relevant app store.                                                                    

Find Collaborate Training

Further information, guidance and training  

The link below takes you to Collaborate’s own websites where you will find a complete range of information, guides and video clips for training on all aspects of Collaborate.  

Collaborate Documentation and Training - focus on the Moderator section.  

Where to get help  

Expert help with Collaborate is available for Collaborate 24 hrs a day through a service with Collaborate that the University subscribes to. This is available to staff and students and includes international freephone numbers.  

The UK freephone number is (0800) 051-7248.  

Further support is available from the Digital Skills team. t: 0161 29 56682 / e: