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Tips to Help You Use Collaborate Like a Pro

Now that everyone is teaching remotely, you might be using, or at least considering, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra to continue live synchronous class sessions. But as you may be experiencing, there’s a bit of a learning curve before you’re really comfortable with the technology.

To help you get up and running quickly, here are a few tips and tricks.

Simplify Your Set Up

Access the web address and dial-in number when you click on the Course Room. Access the web address and dial-in number when you click on the Course Room.

Use the Course Room as your go-to space. Don’t bother with the “Create Session” option. The Course Room uses the same web address each time, so it keeps things simple for both you and your students.

You can also upload files in advance in the Course Room, so it allows you a little bit of course prep time.

Additionally, if you plan to offer virtual office hours, just choose one course. You can share the Course Room web address and dial-in info across all your courses, and then you don’t have to remember which course to login to every time you offer office hours.

Keep Things Moving During Instruction

Writing on Images

By adding images or graphics as separate files, you can annotate on them the same way you would o... By adding images or graphics as separate files, you can annotate on them the same way you would on the whiteboard.

A few faculty have expressed disappointment about not being able to insert images into the whiteboard in Collaborate. I think you can still do exactly what you’re wanting to do, but you just have to approach it differently.

If you want to write on images, graphics or illustrations, you just need to upload those files separately. When you open those files, you’ll see you still have all the editing options at the top.

Using Poll Questions Effectively

The poll questions in Collaborate are a great way to keep your students engaged and participating in your presentation. Unfortunately, Collaborate doesn’t let you set up the poll questions in advance. To combat that, you can write out your poll questions in your PowerPoint presentation slides and then just use the poll feature to write 1, 2, 3 without stopping your flow to write detailed questions. (See the main image on this page as an example.)

A Tip For Your Presentation Slides

If it takes a long time to load your slides, or you notice some distortion in your slides when you watch the recordings, consider converting your presentations to PDFs and presenting from there.

Get a Handle on Audio

If you’ve got a lot of echoing voices going on, it’s probably because multiple users have their mics turned on. Encourage anyone who isn’t speaking to mute themselves.

And if your audio is cutting in and out, don’t forget that you can always opt to call in. I do that a lot of the time just so my sound is more consistent.

I don’t have a microphone, but I did just buy a Bluetooth earpiece to go with my phone the other day. I’m planning to try that out and see if it also produces better quality audio during web conferencing meetings. I’ll let you know how that goes…

Jayna Phinney
Jayna Phinney

Jayna Phinney is the Instructional Technology Specialist for the ASU College of Science and Engineering. Contact her at or 325-486-6264.



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