Collaborate

Collaborate is a live, collaborative space that is underpinned by Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and 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.

Collaborate is a new tool for the University in 2017 and was chosen due to its modern and intuitive interface, the ability to be used by anyone within the University (with up to 250 participants per session) and Collaborate's focus on accessibility and technologies to optimise the session to the participants available bandwidth.

The 15 minute video below provides an overview of Collaborate, how this tool differs to FLO Live and how to add this into your topic:

Login or click here to view the video if it doesn't appear below : Transitioning to Collaborate

 

The following information will provide information on best practice and use cases for Collaborate as well as guide you to adding and creating Collaborate sessions within your FLO topic.

One to one

Discussion/consultation between one academic and one student
This format usually replaces a face-to-face consultation/meeting due to distance as a barrier for staff or student. May be useful for discussing topics virtually face-to-face for remote students, including supervised research students, where a document needs to be shared on the screen (in comparison to a phone only discussion which does not require a visual sharing). Not traditionally recorded, but individual video camera advisable.

Presentation by an individual student for assessment purpose to one other (teacher)
This format will replace the face-to-face aural/visual presentation due to distance as a barrier. Individual student presents to an assessor (teacher). Not traditionally recorded, but individual video camera advisable.

 

One to many

Group discussion between students and teacher
This format is useful for discussing assessment requirements prior to submission, where distance or time is a barrier. Students are provided the opportunity to ask questions of their teacher and/or peers to help clarify any confusing information associated with the assessment task. Aural discussions are more useful at clarifying points than written email or forum posts, as ideas can be expressed differently. The session can be recorded to provide the information for non-attendees. Individual (presenter) video camera advisable.

Tutorials and lecture-style sessions
This format sees one presenter/teacher presenting to multiple participants, where discussion or quizzing interaction is encouraged. The session can be recorded to provide the information for non-attendees or as revision for attendees. If no interaction is encouraged for this session, then the presentation may be best recorded using video creation tools like Camtasia and Kaltura Desktop Recorder, both freely available at Flinders University. Individual (presenter) video camera advisable.

Presentation by a student for assessment or other task to a group of students
This format will replace the face-to-face aural/visual presentation due to distance as a barrier. Individual student presents to a small group of students and an assessor (teacher). The session can be recorded to provide the information for non-attendees. Individual (presenter) video camera advisable.

 

Many to many

Group discussion between students
This format opens communication equally between all participants in a session. Common uses for this approach is for student peer discussion over a shared task or assessment where location is a barrier. Other uses for this approach is to discuss topics from tutorial tasks. Breaking up large group of students into small groups for facilitating discussion is appropriate in this format. Individual video camera and recording of session not advisable.

Presentation by a group of students for assessment or other task to another group of students
This format will replace the face-to-face aural/visual presentation due to distance as a barrier. Students present to a small group of students and an assessor (teacher). The session can be recorded to provide the information for non-attendees. Individual video camera not advisable (especially as break-out rooms are not recorded).

Collaborative task between students
This format includes students sharing documents and screens to support their collaboration, such as preparing for a presentation or other activity. Individual video camera and recording of session not advisable.

Collaborate provides Moderators (teachers in a session) and Participants (students in a session) with a simple, clean and user friendly interface. This new interface for the Collaborate product has been branded 'Ultra' by Blackboard. The following videos provides a quick introduction to the Collaborate interface:

For more information on the Collaborate interface, please see the Collaborate support material for Session Interface Update

Managing a Collaborate session

Moderating large numbers or rich student collaboration can quickly become difficult in an online classroom. When planning your sessions, consider the interaction that you are wanting your students to partake in. The more complex the interactions, the more likely you'll need to support your students to complete the task.

In some circumstances (e.g. large sessions, break-out rooms etc.) it may be best to have multiple Moderators present to facilitate the online session. Multiple Moderators allow a presenter to concentrate on presentating while other moderators monitor the chat, provide basic technical support to students etc.

 

Consider the student cohort

Before holding a formal or required session, it is worth offering one or two informal Collaborate sessions to ensure your students are familar with the technology and are able to test their microphone and webcam (if this is required).

It is also important to consider student's with limited bandwidth (e.g. students located in remote locations, students using mobile devices) as some features such as screen sharing or multiple webcams require a large amount of bandwidth to stream.

Collaborate provides many features to assist in managing differing bandwidths and will also dynamically adjust what is being displayed within the session for each participant based on their current connection. For more information on how this works, access the Network Connect support material.

 

Collaborate recordings for future use

Collaborate recordings will be retained for the life of the FLO topic or 1 year. If you wish to reuse a recording from one topic availability to another, you'll need to download the recording and upload to your Media Gallery.

If the recording is not capturing any collaboration or participation, it may be worth considering desktop video recording tools such as Camtasia or the Kaltura desktop recorder.

 

Allowing students to moderate their own sessions

The course room can be used by students and this does not require a staff member to be present - students can accesss the Course Room at any time from any device. By default, a Participants role allows them to share their audio and video. To find out more about roles in Collaborate, access the 'What can the different roles do' support materials.

If you'd like your students to have all of the permissions that a Moderator has, your Course Room can be altered to give any person that enters Moderator (or Presenter) permissions. This will provide students with the collaborative tools outlined in the 'Collaborative sharing tools' section.

 

Using Collaborate for assessment

Please contact your faculty based eLearning team or the eLearning Design Service to talk through considerations around using Collabroate for assessment purposes.

 

Accessibility

Collaborate has been built with enhanced accessibility features including support for JAWS, VoiceOver, Live Closed Captioning, Keyboard Navigation and Screen readers. For more information on these features, see the following information:

Collaborate provides several tools to share content and engage with session participants. These tools are as follows:

  • Breakout groups: Split participants within the session into small groups for collaboration
  • Chat: Text chat with all participants (chat also allows a restricted chat between Moderators)
  • Polling: Poll Participants with simple polls such as True / False or using 1 - 4 options that you define
  • Document or screen sharing: Either share your screen or upload a document to present to all participants

    Supported file types for uploaded documents include: .ppt, .pptx, .pdf and supported image files include: .gif, .jpeg, .png. It is recommended that you upload PowerPoint / PDF files rather than share your screen as this requires less bandwidth for all participants and increases the accessibility of the content

The following video provides an overview of these sharing tools:

Software and browser requirements

For modern browsers, Collaborate does not require the installation of additional software or plugins. Flinders recommends using Google Chrome (latest available version) and Google Chrome version 54+ is required to utilise the application sharing and break-out room features.

For staff computers managed by Flinders University, we recommend checking the Software Centre to ensure you have the most recent version of Google Chrome installed. Click here for instructions on using the Software Centre.

More information on system requirements can be found here.

 

Equipment

When enabling your microphone or webcam in Collaborate, you'll need to provide Google Chrome permission to activate and transmit your webcam. Please refer to the Collaborate support materials when using Google Chrome.

Video / webcam: When using Google Chrome, Collaborate is able to transmit up to five video and audio (webcam and microphone) streams. Although more microphones and webcams can be enabled, Collaborate prioritises the top five based on who is currently speaking. There may be a slight delay while Collaborate re-enables a microphone / webcam for a participant that Collaborate has previously muted.

Audio: It is recommended that any user who is speaking uses a headset with microphone or uses the teleconference number to reduce the occurrence of background noise and feedback. Although Collaborate has echo cancellation built-in, using a headset will give the best experience. If a student does not have a headset, we advise requesting the student use the teleconference number.

 

Teaching spaces and meeting rooms

Flinders University has a number of teaching spaces and meeting rooms suitable for Collaborate. Please refer to the list of Web Conferencing enabled spaces.

 

Telephone dialing / Teleconference number

Collaborate allows users (moderators and participants) to listen / talk into a session by dialing into a telephone number and enter the session PIN (please note: each pin is unique to a session and an individual user in that session) - commonly referred to as teleconferencing. This is useful if a participant does not have the correct equipment, or is struggling to enable their microphone. Each participant receives a unique PIN for each session they enter (PIN is available within the Session Menu) and can dial into a local or international number to participate within the session. For help using this functionality click here 

The local number for Adelaide is +61 8 7100 1859.

Blackboard Collaborate uses modern browser technologies and, for the best experience, please use Google Chrome. Before using Collaborate, please ensure your Google Chrome is up-to-date (instructions for staff at Flinders can be found in section 3).

Scheduling sessions and Moderator (teacher) access is facilitated through an integration in FLO. Generally students will also access Collaborate through a FLO topic, but public URLs can also be generated if required (e.g. the Collaborate session will involve users external to Flinders University).

To utilise Collaborate in your topic, complete the following steps:

  1. Turn editing on in your topic
  2. Select 'Add an activity or resource
  3. Select the Collaborate activity  Add a collaborate activity
  4. Add a title to the Activity name field
  5. Select Save and display

The Collaborate landing page for your topic will be displayed.
Note: Please contact your eLearning Support team if you require assistance adding Collaborate to your topic.

By default, the only room available is the 'Course room' - the course room is a room that is perpetually open and does not have a set start or end time. This is useful for ad-hoc appointments or testing your device for use with Collaborate (e.g. browser version, webcam and microphone).

We recommend leaving the Course room enabled, but this can be disabled if desired by selecting the menu icon for the Course room and choosing 'Lock course room':

Lock course room

See the Collaborate support materials for more information.

There is a visual guide for participants and a visual guide for moderators available.   This is a quick guide to Collaborate with a brief but comprehensive listing of how to set up/manage a Collaborate session.  It is recommended these be used when running sessions, feel free to make the participant guide URL available to your students via a link in your FLO topic http://www.flinders.edu.au/isd-files/collaborate/collaborate_participant_visual_guide.pdf

By default, Collaborate provides a 'Course room' which is always open for impromtu sessions. If you'd like to schedule one (or more repeating sessions) with a start and an end date, you'll need to create sessions within the Collaborate interface.

To add sessions in Collaborate, access the Collaborate activity created in the step above and refer to the information on creating and editing sessions.

The default settings for a Collaborate session are as follows:

  • Early access available 15 minutes before session
  • Recorded sessions are not permitted to be downloaded
  • The default role for students is 'Participant'
  • Participants can share:
    • Audio
    • Video / webcam
    • Post chat messages
    • Draw on the whiteboard
    • Attendees can join the session using a telephone and pin number

For more on session settings, please review the support materials here.

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.

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. For more information on accessing or downloading a recording, access the recording support materials.  Note:  Recordings are usually available shortly after (allow up to 30 minutes) once the recording session has finished (recording will start once all participants/moderators have left the room).

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 Media Gallery.

If the recording is not capturing any collaboration or participation, it may be worth considering desktop video recording tools such as Camtasia or the Kaltura desktop recorder.

How do I find my recordings?

By default recordings are shown for 7 days in the recent recordings tab.   For detailed steps in finding your recordings please see the finding my recordings material.

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.  

Please note:  Recording downloads must be done whilst setting up a session, this is unable to done once the session has finished. please see the How do I download my Collaborate recordings material.

Flinders will run both the existing FLO Live (Adobe Connect) system and Collaborate in unison for 2017 and the existing FLO Live system will be decommissioned on the 20th November 2017. Existing users will be contacted during 2017 to advise of the steps required to migrate from FLO Live to Collaborate. The steps below outline the steps required for migration and the differences between the two tools.

Migration steps:

  • Add Collaborate activity to your FLO topic;
  • Review FLO Live session recordings - any recording you wish to keep will need to be downloaded and re-uploaded to your topics Media Vault
  • Contact your eLearning team and / or review the training offered if you have any questions or concerns

The following list highlights the main differences between FLO Live and Collaborate:

No licensing restrictions: Flinders has purchased a site-wide license of Collaborate and there are no restrictions on the number of sessions that can be run at one time. Each session can have up to 250 participants (FLO Live was only able to hold up to 45 participants at one time)

No software required: Collaborate does not require software or plugins to use

Download recordings: Collaborate allows for session recordings to be easily downloaded

Recording chat transcript: Collaborate recordings provide a transcript of the chat generated during a session

Attendance reports: Collaborate allows you to view attendance reports on each session, including time spent in session for each participant

Accessibility: Collaborate includes many accessibility enhancements including screen reader support, support for live captions, keyboard navigation and more

Active webcams: Collaborate allows a maximum of 5 active webcams (FLO Live allowed roughly 20)

Polling: The polling options within Collaborate are simple and do not allow customisation

File downloads: Collaborate does not allow for files to be downloaded from within the session (as a workaround, files can be uploaded and accessed through FLO)

 Recordings:  Collaborate does not allow you to rename recordings

 

Roles

FLO Live and Collaborate both use a three tiered role structure. These roles map as follows:

FLO Live

Collaborate

Host Moderator
Presenter Presenter
Participant (Registered / Guest) Participant

To find out more about roles in Collaborate, access the 'What can the different roles do' support materials.



  Training, support and what's new

  Known issues

Training

Flinders offers both Face-to-Face training, online training and has a recording of our training for Collaborate:

Support

What's new

Please refer to the What's New Collaborate support materials

Flinders is also aware of the following issues:

  • unable to rename recordings
  • unable to use a breakout room more than once in a session

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