Collaborate - user 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 steps to consider when using Collaborate in your teaching: 

How to add Collaborate to your FLO topic

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. 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).

By default, a Collaborate link will be placed in your FLO site and hidden from students (until you unhide the link). However, a link can be added manually. 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

How to create sessions for teaching

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.

create session

To add sessions in Collaborate, access the Collaborate activity created in the step above and refer to the detailed information on creating and editing sessions. When creating repeat sessions, you can select show occurrences to view all occurrences of the session.

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.


  • Course room (unlocked room)
  • By default, Collaborate provides a 'Course room' which is always open for impromtu sessions. It is also a good place to test access to the room for future scheduled sessions.

    course room unlocked

    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.

    Record and manage recordings

    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 rename my recordings?

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

    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.

    How do I add captions or subtitles?

    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.

    Share guest link

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

    guest link

    Phone only dial-in

    You can call into a Collaborate session without joining the session on a browser. 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. Your call the number and type the PIN to join the session.

    This new dial-in option is anonymous. 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.

    Please note: You must allow users to join their session using a telephone before attendees can dial-in.
    Tip: Copy the number and PIN from the settings menu to put it in a calendar item.

    Session Timer

    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.

    Attendance report CSV export

    You can export session attendance reports as a CSV file to view and manipulate in Excel.


    » How-to glossary