Collaborate - planning 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 
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.)
  • Netstats indicator (a visual indicator of connection quality next to each user)
  • The number of videos showing at any one time has been reduced from 4 to 2 (as of 1/4 Chrome is still showing four videos)

Collaborate icon

Collaborate is the official web conferencing tool for learning and teaching at Flinders University. Below is a summary of considerations when planning to use Collaborate in your teaching:


What do you want to achieve with Collaborate?

Collaborate can be used for a range of different purposes: One-to-one, one-to-many and, many-to-many.

  • 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 with 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 or the Kaltura desktop recorder, both freely available at Flinders University. Individual (presenter) video camera advisable.

    • Presentation by a student for assessment or activity to a group of students

      This format is used in classrooms, where off-site students present to an on-campus class. View the room booking list and search for 'web conferencing' to find compatible rooms.

    • Student/other is absent from a physical classroom but can participate remotely
      You can conduct Collaborate sessions in enabled rooms on campus. This means that you can bring off-campus participants (students, guest lecturers) into the physical classroom, and have off-campus participants attend your classes synchronously. 

  • 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 groups of students into small groups for facilitating discussion is appropriate in this format. Individual video camera and recording of the 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).

      Collaborate can also be used in some classrooms, meaning that off-site students could present to an on-campus class, or vice versa. To find compatible classrooms, view the room booking list and search for 'web conferencing'.

    • 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 the session not advisable.


What does Collaborate look like?

Collaborate provides Moderators (teachers in a session) and Participants (students in a session) with a simple, clean and user-friendly interface. The following video 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


Things to consider when planning your 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 (eg 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 presenting 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 familiar with the technology and are able to test their microphone and webcam (if this is required).

It is also important to consider students with limited bandwidth (eg 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. You can easily determine a student's relative ability to exchange audio, video, or application sharing during a session with the new session user connectivity indicators. It 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 Vault.

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 access 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. See the screen grab below.

Moderator for student

 

Using Collaborate for assessment

Please contact your College eLearning team talk through considerations around using Collaborate 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:


Collaborative and sharing tools

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, equipment, teaching spaces and telephone dialling

Software

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.

Video chat kits are available for loan to academic staff for use in desktop video conferencing, virtual classroom sessions (eg Collaborate) or recording short videos for FLO. Each eLearning support team has:

  • 2 web chat kits (consisting of a webcam and USB headset)
  • 1 web group chat kit (consisting of a webcam and a Bluetooth microphone / speaker).
An introductory PowerPoint slide for Collaborate (available here) can be placed as a starting slide to help students get started and troubleshoot common technical issues.

Please contact your local eLearning support team for further details and booking.

 

Teaching spaces and meeting rooms

Flinders University has a number of teaching spaces and meeting rooms suitable for Collaborate. Please refer to the room booking list to see rooms that support web conferencing (including classrooms).

IDS have produced a user guide for using Collaborate in a classroom.

 

Telephone dialling / 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.




Support for mobile browsers

Collaborate works on mobile phones for participants and presenters, but some of the presentation features are limited.


What mobile browsers does Collaborate work on?

Collaborate supports the browsers on recent versions of iOS and Android. The Collaborate website has further details on what these are.

Older mobile phones may work, but there is no guarantee that all features will work correctly.


Features available on mobile browsers
  • Audio, video and chat are available
  • Breakout rooms and polling are available
  • Staus and feedback (e.g. raising hands) is available

Screen sharing

  • You cannot initiate screen sharing on a mobile browser
  • Students on mobile browsers can view screen sharing started by other people

File sharing

  • Files stored on your phone can be shared
  • Files previously uploaded to the room can be shared
  • On an iPhone, files stored in other third-party apps (e.g. OneDrive) are not accessible
  • On Android, files stored in other third-party apps (e.g. OneDrive) can be accessed

» How-to glossary