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EDU Support Blackboard Instructor Tool Guide Tools for (interactive) lecturing Blackboard Collaborate Ultra​

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra​

Online lectures are more accessible than ever, giving instructors and students the chance to exchange information and communicate in an educational environment while having the luxury of not being confined to an on-site location. The RUG offers possibilities for online education through the use of an application called Blackboard Collaborate, which has been fully integrated with Nestor. This guide will help you set up an online lecture in your Nestor course.

Where to find Blackboard Collaborate

Blackboard Collaborate can be found under Course Management:

  1. Go to Course Management in your course.

  2. Unfold the Course Tools menu.

  3. Select Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.

See the screenshot to the right for a visual instruction.

It is also possible to include a link to Collaborate in a content area, in order to make Collaborate accessible for students:

  1. Go to a content area in your course.

  2. Select Tools.

  3. Select More Tools at the bottom.

  4. Select Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.

See the screenshot below for a visual instruction.

Both of these methods refer you to the same Collaborate environment.

Creating a session

Once you have entered Collaborate, you are able to start a session. A Course Room is already available, which is a session with no time restrictions that can be either locked or unlocked, restricting or allowing access respectively. To start a regular session, press the Create Session button.

The bottom Create Session button only appears if no sessions have been made yet.

Attendee roles

In a Collaborate session, there are three possible roles attendees can have:

  • Participant: You can participate in the chat, share audio and video and draw on shared files and whiteboards (if enabled in settings).

  • Presenter: You have all the rights of a participant, but you can also share files, share a whiteboard and share your screen.

  • Moderator: You have all the rights of a presenter, but you can also edit the settings of the session and create a poll or breakout groups.

Editing general settings

Once you have selected a session, the following options will appear (the letters are referring to the image):

A. Here you can enter the name of the session. Once this has been filled in, options B through D will appear.

B. Here you can join the session.

C. It is possible for attendees to enter the session through an anonymous dial-in. The phone number to call and the security PIN to be entered can be found here. Standard phone rates apply.

D. Ticking the Guest access box allows you to share a guest link to people outside the scope of the course, including people who do not have access to Nestor. The Guest role drop-down menu determines the role that the guest using the link will have in the session.

Event Details and Session Settings can be configured separately, see below.

Editing Event Details

In Event Details you can configure settings related to the time of the session (the letters are referring to the image):

A. Here you can configure the start time and date and the end time and date of the session.

B. Ticking the No end (open session) box allows the session to always be accessible, with no start time or end time.

C. Ticking the Repeat session box allows the session to be repeated at certain times (e.g. once every week). You can configure the specifics if you tick the box.

D. Here you can configure Early Entry, i.e. the time before the start time of the session after which students and other attendees can enter the session.

E. Here you can provide a description of the session to the attendees.

Editing Session Settings

In Session Settings you can further configure settings related to the session (the letters are referring to the screenshot):

A. Here you can select the default role of every attendee joining the session. It is recommended to leave this at Participant.

B. Here you can select whether recordings of this session should be downloadable for students, and whether chat messages in the recording should be anonymous.

C. Here you can select whether only the profile pictures for Moderators should be shown in the session.

D. Here you can select the rights that Participants have in the session. You can individually configure the sharing of audio, the sharing of video, the ability to post messages in the chat and the ability to draw on shared whiteboards and files in the session.

E. Here you can configure whether the anonymous dial-in (option C of general settings) should be available.

F. Here you can configure options relating to the chat.

G. The normal maximum capacity for a session is 250 attendees. This can be increased to 500 attendees by ticking the Allow 250+ attendees to join box, making the session a large scale session. Doing this will limit the options available (see below).

Options C and D can also be configured in the session itself.

In a large scale session, participants can not share audio, share video, or draw on whiteboard and files. The posting of chat messages is disabled by default, but can be activated again in the session itself.

Inside a session

Once you have joined your session, you can do the following (the letters are referring to the image):

A. Here you can find the session menu. In here you can turn on the recording of the session, as well as leave the session.

B. Here you can assign a status to yourself as a form of feedback.

C. Here you can turn your microphone on or off.

D. Here you can turn your camera on or off.

E. Here you can raise your hand, indicating to all attendees that you want to share something that is on your mind.

F. Here you can open the Collaborate Panel. See the next section for more details.

Inside the Collaborate Panel

In the Collaborate Panel there are four sections at the bottom (the letters are referring to the screenshot):

A. Here you can find the chat. There is a global chat for all attendees and a moderator chat, only visible to attendees with the role of moderator.

B. Here you can view all attendees which are in the session, ordered by their role. This is also where you can switch to a breakout group (see below).

C. Here you can share content to all attendees, including a blank whiteboard, your screen and files such as PowerPoint slides. For more information about sharing PowerPoint or Google Slides slides, see the next section. You can also start a poll which the attendees can fill in, and start breakout groups. Breakout groups are smaller sessions inside of the main session to which attendees can switch. If you are in a breakout group, you can only see the content of that group. This option can be useful when you want to work on or discuss projects in smaller groups.

D. The whiteboard function has recently been updated.

When files or a blank whiteboard are shared in a session, you can use annotation tools to edit and mark up the document during the live session. You’ll find the annotation tools at the top of the screen. These tools are available for both the moderator and participant roles unless the moderator turns it off in Session Settings.

Ultra view

  • DrawingBrush, and Eraser: Draw freehand on the page with various colors, thickness, and opacity. Select the eraser to remove annotations. You can erase parts of a freehand drawing with the eraser or select the Delete icon to delete the whole drawing.

  • Text: Add text directly on the page. You can move, edit, and change the text and select the font, size, alignment, and color of the text.

  • Shapes: Choose Line, Arrow, Rectangle, Ellipse, Polygon, and Polyline. Each shape has its own settings to change the color, width, opacity, and more.

  • Clear Annotations: Annotations are saved in the session. You can share something new, go to a new slide, or stop sharing. The annotations remain. Moderators can use Clear Annotations to delete all annotations from all pages.

  • Highlighter: Select areas on a shared file to highlight. As you highlight text on the page, an additional menu opens. You can highlight, strikethrough, underline, squiggle, or comment on the highlighted section. The highlighter is only available on shared files. It's not available on the whiteboard.

    Upload a blank file of several pages to have a multi-page whiteboard.

  • Pointer: There isn't a pointer option. Create an arrow with the Shapes tool. Move the arrow to point to different areas of the whiteboard. Place the arrow where you want it to be seen on the whiteboard. Attendees can’t see the arrow while you have it selected and are moving it.

Original view

  • Select: Use the arrow to select an object on the whiteboard. After you select it you can resize, move, and delete it.

  • Pointer: Use the hand to point to different areas of the visible slide. Attendees see the same hand on their screen.

  • Pencil: Use the pencil to draw free hand on the slide. 

  • Shapes: Use shapes to draw a rectangle, ellipse, or a straight line. 

  • Text: Use text to type text anywhere on the slide. 

  • Clear: Use Clear to delete everything on the slide.

    To delete just one thing off the slide, select the item and press Delete on your keyboard.

  • Stop Sharing: Use stop to remove the slides or whiteboard from the screen.

  • Show View Controls/Hide View Controls: Use view controls to adjust the slides or whiteboard on your screen. You can Zoom In, Zoom Out, see the slide in Actual Size, or select Best Fit. These actions are visible only to you. For example, others won't see you zoom the content in or out and you won't see what others zoom.

    Best Fit takes advantage of your screen real estate. Content adjusts to be completely viewable in the available area. It displays as large as possible while keeping the aspect ratio intact.

  • Next Slide/Previous Slide: Move to the previous or next slide. Select the slide name to view all slides.

    With your keyboard, press Alt + Page Down to move back a slide and Alt + Page Up to move forward a slide. On a Mac, press Alt + Fn + Down Arrow or Alt + Fn + Up Arrow.

E. Here you can change settings inside of the session. Audio and Video Settings lets you change options regarding to the set-up of your microphone and camera. Notification Settings lets you change options regarding to which notifications you will receive. Session Settings lets you change options regarding the session itself, similar to the Session Settings you can configure outside of the session.

Sharing documents or slides

To share documents or slides, use the “Share Files” option in the content sharing section. Click “Add Files” to upload a new file. You can upload images, PDF documents, and Microsoft PowerPoint .pptx files. Blackboard Collaborate will convert the files to make them ready to share. Click the document you want to share and click “Share Now”, then click the page/slide you want to share to start sharing the file.

When uploading slides in .pptx or .pdf format any animations and transitions are lost. If you want objects to gradually appear on slides, duplicate the slide instead of adding transitions.

To stop sharing the document, click the Stop button in the top right corner. To move between pages, click the left and right arrow buttons below the content.

Gallery View

Gallery View lets you see multiple webcams at one time. You can view up to 25 attendees on a page (this depends your browser, device and session size). Videos are displayed in alphabetical order, moderators appear at the top of the list.

Using Gallery View

The default view within a session is the Speaker view, you can switch to Gallery View by clicking in the upper right corner on the icon with four squares and choosing the Gallery View.


You can use the arrows on either side of the screen to move between the pages and use the zoom icons on the right side of the screen to see fewer and larger videos at the same time.

Point to an attendee and select the Attendee Controls to send them a private chat, promote a participant, mute the attendee, or remove the person from the session.

Different Views

You can choose between the Tiled and Speaker views. These views show 5 videos, one large video and four smaller ones. This larger video shows who is speaking so people know who is speaking more clearly. The larger video automatically changes to the active speaker. The only difference between the Tiled and Speaker views is the layout (see the picture down below). The default view within in a session is the Speaker View, you can switch between them by clicking on the icon in the upper right corner and selecting the view you want.

Speaker view

Tiled view

Pin Videos

You can choose to pin a few video’s so you can pay closer attention to a few people. Videos that ar epinned are always in view. When you pin a video, it moves the video to the top of the list. Videos appear in the order they were pinned. Only you know who you pinned and they are only pinned in your view. Nobody else sees who you pinned and the people who you pinned aren’t notified.

Gallery View isn’t available in Safari on iOS or iPad OS at this time. In Firefox you can only view 2 video’s at the same time. In sessions with more than 250 attendees you can also view 2 video’s at the same time.


Sessions can be recorded so that students can watch the lecture (again) at a later time. Recordings will be visible for all students in the course by default.

Recordings include all activity in the live session:

  • Audio

  • Any content shared or active speaker video. If both are shared during the session, only the content shared is recorded.

  • Captions entered during the live session or added later by a moderator. Only one caption track is available. If your session had more than one caption track, only the first available one is captured.

  • Chat messages in the Everyone channel. Private messages and chat messages in breakout groups are not recorded.

When you want to start recording the session click on the Session Menu in the top left button in the window and select Start recording. When your session is complete you should stop the recording in the same menu. The recording will automatically be stopped when all participants have left the session.

Access recordings

Recordings can be accessed by opening the Collaborate Tool in your Nestor course. There, open Collaborate and open the top left menu. Select Recordings. After Blackboard has processed your video, students can immediately view the recording by clicking on the name of the recording and click on “View”. Video processing can take a couple of minutes at maximum.

Range filtering

If you cannot see you recording change the Filter by setting by clicking on “Recent Recordings”.

Download Recordings

Recordings can be downloaded in an .mp4-video format. To allow students to download the recordings be sure to change the session settings:

This only contains the primary content: the main speaker or shared contents. It does not contain the chat, or secondary video streams, like the webcams from other participants. The chat can be downloaded separately.

Last modified: 6 December 09:51 AM
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