How can Bb Collaborate support my online teaching?

Blackboard Collaborate is the web conferencing tool that enables live online teaching and learning  in Blackboard. Every Blackboard course can be customised to create a ‘virtual classroom’ for live lectures or tutorials; and to create spaces where smaller groups can meet and collaborate.

This enables a level of interaction and responsiveness that is not possible with pre-recorded videos. Students can interact via video and microphone, and post comments or questions in the thread. Blackboard Collaborate is also AUT-supported, meaning that training or technical support are available from altLAB.

The challenge lies in understanding the features of Blackboard Collaborate and how best to use it to support teaching and learning.

Five Top Tips

  1. Consider whether Blackboard Collaborate is the right tool for your paper. If the idea is to use it as a way to present a 2-hour lecture, then consider using pre-recorded videos that students can watch in their own time instead.

  2. Blackboard Collaborate can work wonderfully to facilitate active learning sessions with smaller classes (up to 25 students). Think about the activities that students will do and how they could be achieved online. Using ‘Breakout groups’ is one option. Consider a consultation with altLAB to generate ideas.

  3. For Blackboard Collaborate sessions to work interactively with larger student numbers, it may be necessary to have two teachers present during the session – one to field and respond to questions in the chat; and to help monitor Breakout groups.

  4. Clearly communicate times and accessibility steps to your students ahead of the live streaming.

  5. Evaluate how the sessions in Blackboard Collaborate are supporting student learning. Look for ways to invite feedback from students. Be open to trying new strategies as you explore this means of teaching.

Technical guidance

If you’re new to Blackboard Collaborate, start with the basics (presenting, sharing files) and slowly bring in the use of more features of the tool.