Collaborate

Collaborate is NAU's web conferencing tool. Presenters can deliver slide shows, visit websites, demonstrate application programs, and even share control of the mouse. Collaborate supports text chat, audio, and video. You can use Collaborate either as a stand-alone tool, or as an in-course tool. Collaborate is powerful, but it takes a little practice to become proficient. We recommend that new users attend a training session or practice on your own before you use it for an important virtual meeting or classroom activity. If you will be hosting a virtual meeting, we recommend joining your session ten to fifteen minutes ahead of the scheduled start time so that you can welcome people as they arrive, and help them get set up. If you will be joining (but not hosting) a virtual meeting, it's still good to arrive at least five minutes before the meeting is scheduled to start so that you can test your audio and video.

1. Setting up Sessions:

  • If you are the host (moderator) of the session, you will need to set up the session in advance and share the link to the session with participants.
  • If you will be joining a session set up by somebody else, you can skip ahead to Section 2 below.

1a. Stand-alone sessions:

If you don't need Bb Learn, log into the NAU Portal (my.nau.edu) to set up a session. Click on the Resources and Tools menu. Create your session in the Blackboard Collaborate module by clicking on the Schedule Session button.

Next, click on the session you created and you will see the session details. Copy the Guest Link and distribute it to people who will be attending the session. To enter the session as Moderator, click the Launch Session button.

1b. In-Course Sessions:

For in-course sessions, select a course from Bb Learn's My Courses list. In the Course Management Control Panel on the lower left, click on the Course Tools menu and select Blackboard Collaborate.

Course Tools

Next, create a session using the Create Session button, or browse to a previously scheduled session. Note that there may be more than one page of sessions, so you may not see all of them initially. You can also access previously recorded sessions here, from the Recordings link.

Course Tools

scheduled session

After you scroll down and find the meeting you want to view, click on the link to get to the Room Details screen. Copy the Guest URL and share it with your students. Enter the room as Moderator by clicking the Launch Room button.

Note: Students do not have access to the Course Management Control Panel. You will need to ensure that they can access Collaborate from the Tools in their course menu. You can also add a Tool Link so that Collaborate shows up in the course menu, allowing them to browse the available sessions. Simplest of all for the students, you could add a direct link to the Collaborate Room using a Web Link, by simply pasting in the Guest URL and making sure the link is available to all users.

Course Tools

2. Launching Collaborate:

To join the session, click on the guest link you have been provided, either in your Bb Learn course or by an e-mail invitation. For example, try this link to my virtual offiice, which will remain active unti April 7, 2015. You will be asked to type your name, and should follow the on-screen prompts to enter the meeting. There are a number of things that you might need to do the first time you use Collaborate. For example, you should verify that Java is installed and is up-to-date. Mac users will also need to install the Collaborate Launcher. When you double-click on the guest link, a file called meeting.collab or join.collab will be downloaded by your web browser. If Collaborate does not launch automatically, find this file in your browser's downloads folder and double-click it. Each time a Collaborate session starts, a file of this type is downloaded. If there is more than one of these files in your downloads folder, they will be numbered join-2.collab, join-3.collab, etc. Open the one with the highest number (the most recent) in the name. You can delete these files after your session is over. If you have any trouble getting your system configured or launching Collaborate, please contact e-Learning's help desk (elc-help@nau.edu, 523-5554) for assistance.

Course Tools

Double-click the join.collab file.

Type your name and click the Log In button.

Be patient. This can take a few seconds, especially on a slow connection.

If you reach this screen, everything is proceeding correctly.

Almost there...

You have successfully joined the meeting. Your name appears in the participants window.

3. Using Collaborate:

Ok, so you're in. Now what? You can listen to and view a presentation by the host and use the text chat area on the left to make comments or ask questions. That's a good place to start, while you learn the basic tools. If you want to speak, you will need to configure Collaborate for your microphone (see Audio Setup below). Most hosts/moderators are experienced Collaborate users and they will often guide new users on how to use the tools once they are in the session.

text chat

Collaborate's text chat area.

Tip: If you will be using Collaborate without a headset microphone, you may have minor issues with audio quality, including echo or feedback. An inexpensive USB headset mic will eliminate these problems and improve your audio quality.

USB headset mic.

Audio Setup: In Collaborate's Tools menu, choose Audio/Audio Setup Wizard...

Configure your sound input and output.

To speak, you have two options. You can click the Talk button below the video window and leave it depressed for a back and forth conversation but, if you're mostly listening, it's best to push Talk when you have something to say and then push Talk again when you're done so that Collaborate isn't picking up any background noise when you're just listening.

Video Setup: In Collaborate's Tools menu, choose Video/Camera Settings...

Video is working!