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 
Collaborate icon

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. Below is a summary of considerations when planning to use Collaborate in your teaching: 

What Collaborate looks like

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

Considerations for using 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 (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 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 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 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 College eLearning team talk through considerations around using Collaborate for assessment purposes.



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:


Equipment, software and telephone dialling 

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.



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 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 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.

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