Collaborate - administration guide

Collaborate is a live, collaborative space that provides the ability to chat, screen-share, share audio and video, poll students, collaborate using a virtual whiteboard or group participants into small 'break-out' spaces. Using the Collaborate activity in a topic ideally consists of the following 5 stages.

1. Plan  |  2. Build  |  3. Test  |  4. Administer  |  5. Review  ||  Support 

Collaborate icon

When running your Collaborate sessions there are a range of functions available for you to use.

Disabled features

To help increase the stability of the system and increase performance, the following features are temporarily disabled by the vendor:

  • Timer (a countdown timer)
  • Chat typing indicator (a visual indicator that someone is typing. Chat is otherwise functional.)
  • The number of videos showing at any one time in some browsers has been reduced from 4 to 2

Use an introductory PowerPoint slide

An introductory PowerPoint slide for Collaborate can be placed as a starting slide to help students get started and troubleshoot common technical issues.

Record the session

Any Collaborate session can be recorded for playback at a later date. If enabled, participants and moderators are also able to download the recording (subject to the settings being changed) for offline viewing (or reuse in a subsequent year). Session recordings record all collaboration, sharing, chat messages, voice and video.

If showing a video/other material during the recording, you may want to stop it temporarily to avoid breaching copyright. If in doubt, check with the Library (Service One > Education > Copyright for my teaching material).


For instructions on how to record a session, access the Record Sessions support material.

Recordings are accessed through the Collaborate link within your FLO topic and are processed shortly after the recording session has finished. The processing time varies depending on the length of the recording, but it is typically under 30 minutes.

For more information on accessing or downloading a recording, access the recording support materials

Present content during a session

Methods of sharing content with your participants:

  • Share files - recommended for best overall experience for users on low bandwidth. Can share PowerPoint (each slide is optimised during upload), PDF files, images (gif, jpeg, png)
  • Share application - share your desktop or a software application
  • Share camera - share more than one camera at a time, e.g. a document camera or a camera pointed at an experiment.
  • Share audio and video - use Chrome browser to share audio and video streams and files.


  1. Before sharing audio and video, it is important to consider both copyright implication and internet connection bandwidth. Copyright information can be found on Copyright for teachers page. If in doubt, check with the Library (Service One > Education > Copyright for my teaching material).

  2. Users with limited bandwidth can experience difficulty in sharing or viewing the content. If planning to show a video, consider sharing the video through FLO instead, for students to watch before / after the class. For more information on how bandwidth affects content sharing, access the Network Connect support material.
  1. PowerPoint presentations can be shared in a collaborate session by either sharing a file or sharing an application. When sharing a file, your presentation is converted to a series of images and hence slides are 'flattened' – animations are removed. Files are also pre-loaded, which generally provides a better experience for people with slower internet connections. Sharing a PowerPoint application will keep animations but will use more bandwidth. Animations in your PowerPoint can be simulated by a series of slides with increasing content for use with the share files method.

Engagement insights

The Session Engagement Insights Panel is a companion for moderators that shows with data how the audience is engaging while the session is occurring; opening the space to think on actions that may help keep or improve the energy of a session.

Manage recordings

  • Re-using Collaborate recordings in my topics

If you wish to reuse a recording from one topic availability to another, you'll need to download the recording and upload to your My Media and publish to your topic's Media Vault.
If the recording is not capturing any collaboration or participation, it may be worth considering desktop video recording tools such as the Kaltura desktop recorder or Camtasia.

  • How do I rename my recordings?

Open the Recording options and select Recording settings. The recording name always begins with the session name. Edits to the name change the text after the backslash (/) only.

Rename recordings

  • How do I download my recordings?

You must allow session recording downloads for each session. Open a session's Session Settings and check Allow download recording. Any recordings made in this session can be downloaded.  

If your once-off session has finished and you have forgotten to allow downloads, you can edit the session settings, change the end date to a few minutes into the future and tick the box that allows downloading. When the session expires, you will be able to download the recording. Please be aware however that students can access the session before the new end time.

If you have forgotten to allow downloads for your recurring session, there is no way to retroactively allow downloads (to prevent confidential discussions from being disseminated). You can make future sessions downloadable by deleting any upcoming sessions and creating a new set of recurring sessions with the download settings enabled.

Live captioning

The below actions need to be done for each individual Collaborate session.

Captions entered during the live session are included when the session is recorded. If your session had more than one caption track, only the first available one is captured.

Moderator actions
  1. Open the right panel and select Attendees.
  2. Click the 3 dots next to the Participant name who you are promoting to Captioner
  3. Select Make captioner
    Modorator attendance window
  4. The Captioner will need to accept the function to start. Once accepted a CC will be place in front of their name.
  5. No other action is required after this.
Closed captioner actions
  1. Login to FLO and navigate to the Topic Collaborate session
  2. Enter session
  3. Make yourself known to the Moderator and what your role is either via voice or chat window. 
  4. Request to be promoted to captioner.
  5. Accept captioner function
    Captioner accept window
  6. The caption window will open at the bottom of the screen.
  7. You can change your name in the caption window if you want. Click your name and type new name eg. Closed captions
    Captioner option window
  8. If you want to see the presenter talk and not the presentation, click the picture-in-picture button (bottom right) to swap your view.
  9. Begin to type captions. Text will auto wrap, or you can press Enter for new lines.
    This will become a scrolling window as more text is added.
Participant requiring captions
  1. When you enter the room an option to accept/decline captioning will be available. Click Yes.
    Participant colse caption accept screen
  2. Captions will automatically appear at the bottom of the screen. Any captions typed before activating captions will not be viewed but could be viewed later if the session is recorded.

Add captions or subtitles

Captions and subtitles make the session more accessible and allow for student diversity.

You can upload Video Text Tracks (VTT) caption and SubRip Subtitle (SRT) files to add or replace captions in recordings. From Recordings, find the recording you want, open the Recording options menu, and select Add caption source.

Adding captions or subtitles

Invite someone from outside your topic

Use the guest link to invite people from outside of the FLO topic into the Collaborate session.

guest link

Join a session via phone

Please note: You must allow users to join their session using a telephone before attendees can dial-in. This is setting is on by default, but can be disabled.

If you are having audio difficulties you can use your phone for audio.

If you are in the Collaborate room, open the session menu and select Use your phone for audio. You will be given a phone number plus a personal PIN. You can still stay in the session to see the presentations and use the chat, but your phone provides the audio. Note: the PIN is unique to you for that session only.

You can also call into a Collaborate session without joining the session. From your list of sessions, select the name of the session you want to call into. Select the Anonymous dial-in information from the menu. You will see a phone number to call and a PIN to enter to join the session.

For further instructions, visit Collaborate's official user guide

The box under 'anonymous dial in' lists the phone number to be called (first line) and the PIN that needs to be entered (second line)

When you use Anonymous dial-in, your phone is not paired with your account or session avatar. You appear in the session as an anonymous caller to other attendees.

Anonymous caller


Time sessions

You can set a timer for everyone in the session or make it just visible to other moderators. Open the Collaborate panel, select Share Content and start the Timer.
Timing sessions

Accessibility and screen readers

Accessibility in Blackboard Collaborate covers a range of items to make the experience enjoyable for all.
Collaborate has full screen reader support of all key workflows and Blackboard recommends:
  • Firefox® and JAWS on a Windows®system
  • Safari®and VoiceOver on a Mac®

For the best Collaborate experience with your screen reader it is advisable to use one of the following browsers:

  • Windows 10 - Firefox with JAWS v17: Provisional
  • Windows 7 - Firefox with JAWS v17: Compatible
  • macOS:
    • Safari with VoiceOver: Certified
    • Firefox with ViceOver: Provisional

Support for a range of other functions is also included:

You will also find screen reader support for whiteboard activities and uploaded files, but as a presenter you should avoid 'share application' and use 'file share' instead. The use of file share is also helps to optimise performance for users on low bandwidth.

Collaborate also supports live closed captioning, if there is someone available to live caption and this is an option for you.

» How-to glossary